Amnesty In’t: Stop caning immigrants

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called for the Malaysian government to do away with caning as a punishment for immigration offences.

“Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, prohibited under international human rights law.

“The practice is humiliating, and causes such pain that people have reportedly fainted. Those caned often carry scars, psychological as well as physical, for years. The severity of the pain and suffering often means that whipping is in fact a form of torture,” said the watchdog in a statement issued today.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had told Parliament on June 17 that 34,923 migrants have been caned since 2002 and 2008 in a written reply to a question by Bukit Bendera DAP parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong.

It was also stated in the reply that out of the 34,923 migrants who were caned 60.2 percent were Indonesians, 14.1 percent Filipinos and 13.9 percent Burmese.

Treaty must be ratified

According to Amnesty, over 47,000 migrants have been whipped since amendments incorporating corporeal punishment were added to the Immigration Act came into force in 2002.

The amendments constitute a mandatory sentence of whipping of up to six strokes, fines and up to five years imprisonment for foreigners who are here illegally.

“Whipping someone with a cane is cruel, inhuman and degrading and international standards make clear that such treatment constitutes torture,” said Amnesty, also urging the government to repeal all other form of corporal punishment.

The watchdog also raised concern that undocumented workers, documented workers whose passports have been withheld by their employers, asylum seekers and refugees are also at risk of being caned.

Ratify human rights treaties

The watchdog reiterated that Malaysia should ratify relevant human rights treaties, and in particular the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Migrant Workers’ Convention.

Last month, the United States put Malaysia back on the blacklist of countries trafficking in people after removing the country from the list last year.

Among the reasons stated included the poor treatment of foreign domestic helpers.

On June 18, another report declared Malaysia as the worst place for refugees for the second consecutive year.

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