Friday, August 26, 2011

Hisham defends decision to deport Uighurs

By Husna Yusop, The Sun

The decision to send back 11 Chinese Uighur Muslim refugees to China last week was justified as they were involved in criminal activities, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Commenting on international human rights groups criticising Malaysia for repatriating the Uighurs to China on Aug 18, he told a press conference today that there were still five others detained on suspicion of human trafficking.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' office in Kuala Lumpur has reportedly voiced regret that the deportation was done without allowing them access to UN officials.

"We get condemnations all around in anything we do. But, these people were wanted by the China government. We have to be on the side of justice and, at the end of the day, what is most important to me is the safety and stability of our people and our country," he told reporters after the ministry's monthly

assembly, here.

Speaking after attending the ministry's monthly assembly, Hishammuddin said it is best to leave the matter to the authorities as they were still under investigation.

"We can argue and debate the whole day. Those with views can come and engage us, we can discuss. The rights of the press to report must not come in the way of investigations that are on-going," he said.

In another development, Hishammuddin denied reports that the ministry has ordered for UNHCR cardholders to register under the 6P Programme on Monday.

"It was not ordered by the ministry. That's not true. From what I've discovered, it was the decision of all those refugees to register at that particular time.

It was reported that about 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers flooded the Immigration Department in Putrajaya when they were given an 11th hour notice to register themselves under the programme.

Overwhelmed and ill prepared, immigration officials reportedly had little choice but to turn back a large number of the refugees and asked them to return the next day.

Hishammuddin said the ministry officers have been instructed to engage UNHCR to come up with proper planning for the refugees so that there will not be any bottlenecks.

"If they tell us in advance they want to come in big numbers, we can make the necessary arrangement," he said adding the original decision was for the registration to be in staggered.

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