Malaysia should stop caning illegal workers

Malaysia should stop caning illegal immigrants because corporal punishment is prohibited under international human rights law, a global rights group said in a report released on Friday.Malaysia has resorted to caning to help deter an influx of illegal workers, which the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said could number about five million.

“Up to now, the government has been adopting a punitive approach to the issue of migration,” Cynthia Gabriel, the group’s vice-president, said in a statement to mark the launch of the report.

It was based on the findings of three international human rights advocates who visited Malaysia last year to study the situation. “The poor conditions of detention of migrants in the immigration detention centres and the fact that they can be condemned to corporal punishments (whipping) are part of this policy,” Gabriel said.

She said Malaysia should come up with a comprehensive policy on migration based on international human rights standards. There are about 1.8 million registered and about 5 million illegal foreign workers in Malaysia, the rights group said.

The bulk of foreign workers are from Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Malaysia has 26 million people but many locals shun jobs they consider dirty, dangerous and difficult.

Malaysia’s Bar Council, which represents about 12,000 lawyers, had called for a ban on caning, saying the “cruel” practice was rising in Malaysia, especially on illegal immigrants after hasty hearings arranged at crammed detention centres.

The government has denied use of the cane was widespread against illegal immigrants and insisted it was reserved mainly for the traffickers of illegal immigrants in addition to drug-traffickers and violent criminals. (Reuters)

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