Amnesty International is seriously concerned about how the safeguards included in the Malaysia deal will actually work in practice.
The Australian Government must immediately provide concrete details of how asylum seekers sent to Malaysia will have real access to employment, education and health care while being protected from harm.
“Refugees in Malaysia are commonly abused, abandoned and exploited. Despite previous Malaysian government assurances we know they are at risk of being caned and locked up in horrifying conditions. It is both dangerous and inappropriate to send asylum seekers to a country that has not signed the UN Refugee Convention,” said Amnesty International’s refugee spokesman Dr Graham Thom.
“Given Malaysia’s appalling track record on refugee human rights, simply giving people ‘access to self reliance’ is not enough. If their employers refuse to pay their wages at the end of the month, who can they complain to? What protection does a woman have from sexual abuse at the hands of her employer? If a young 17-year-old is sent alone to Malaysia, what kind of work can he or she find to support themselves?”
"Of particular concern are unaccompanied minors who are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," said Dr Thom.
Amnesty International believes there is insufficient detail on how the 800 asylum seekers will be able to survive once they are sent out into the community.
“Concerning health and education, it appears the asylum seekers will rely on the same UN services as the other 90 thousand refugees in Malaysia. We know that these are already badly overstretched. The reality is that most asylum seekers will not be able to afford to pay for a decent education or health care for their children,” said Dr Thom.
Amnesty International has also expressed fears that the safeguards will only be temporary.
“With the Government making it clear that the 800 asylum seekers will not receive ‘special treatment’ in a process we know can take years, just how long will Australia be monitoring their cases to make sure they are not exposed to danger?” said Dr Thom.
Amnesty International has consistently opposed the Malaysia deal as a violation of Australia’s international human rights obligations and international law.