Friday, April 2, 2010

AI concerned over Nepali migrant workers arrested in Malaysia

Amnesty International (AI) has expressed its concern over the status of 500 Nepalese illegal migrants caught by Malaysian authorities since the crackdown began at the end of February.

Michael Bocheneck, author of an AI report and director of policy, said immigration raids targeted both documented as well as undocumented workers.

"Regardless of immigration status, nobody should be subjected to arbitrary arrest or terrible detention conditions," he added.

A press release issued by AI Nepal states that migrant workers who have authorisation to work in Malaysia often possess only the photocopies of their passports and work permits and authorities frequently do not accept photocopied documents as proof of lawful status.

Rameshwar Nepal, director of AI Nepal, said it was time for both the Nepalese and Malaysian governments to broker a more equitable deal for migrants working in the South East Asian country to ensure the rights of the workers.

Coordination is necessary between two governments, especially with regards to the mismanagement of employment agencies in both countries, violated by employer and the state authorities, he added.

The immigration raid volunteers with the People's Volunteer Corps (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or RELA) are untrained and they are often unfamiliar with the documents they are examining, but they enjoy broad powers to enter private homes without warrants, question suspects, and make arrests, the press release stated.

The police and RELA agents both subject migrants to acts of harassment, extortion and violence, but RELA agents are responsible for the most rampant abuses against migrants, the Amnesty International report found.