Kuala Lumpur Malaysia has been asked by a top human rights watchdog to halt the "torture and other ill-treatment" to thousands of refugees and migrants as the government disclosed that almost 30,000 foreigners had been caned in the last five years.
"The government's figures confirm that Malaysia is subjecting thousands of people to torture and other ill-treatment each year," Asia Pacific director at Amnesty International Sam Zarifi said.
He said this practice was absolutely prohibited under international law irrespective of the circumstances.
"As a first step, the Malaysian government has to immediately declare a moratorium on this brutal practice," Zarifi said.
The human rights group was outraged after the country's Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein made a statement to the Parliament last week that 29,759 foreigners had been caned between 2005 and 2010 for immigration offences alone.
The human rights group also called for a complete abolition of all forms or corporal punishment, which constitutes torture or other ill-treatment, Zarifi said.
In December 2010, Amnesty published an in-depth investigation into judicial caning in Malaysia.
In each of the 57 cases it examined, Amnesty found that the caning amounted to torture, as the authorities had intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering through the punishment of caning, he said.
At least 60 per cent of the 29,759 foreigners caned were Indonesians, according to Liew Chin Tong, the parliamentarian who submitted the question to Parliament.
Malaysia hit news headlines last year over its decision to cane a Muslim woman who was charged with drinking beer in public.
The woman, a model, was later made to do community work after the case got wide publicity in the international press.