PETALING JAYA: A pilot programme to allow Rohingya refugees in Malaysia to work is a positive step taken by the Government with regards to human rights, says Amnesty International Malaysia.
Its executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, in unveiling the Amnesty International Report 2016/17 yesterday, said about 300 Rohingya would be allowed to work legally in the country under the scheme.
“However, the Malaysian Government and authorities should take a step further to recognise refugees in the domestic legislation and policies, so that Rohingya refugees could be accorded basic rights like the right to work and access to healthcare,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly said the Government would provide training in semi-skilled areas for the Rohingya holding United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cards.
They could later apply for Temporary Employment Passes and seek employment.
As of October last year, there were about 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.
Over 135,000 are from Myanmar, comprising 54,856 Rohingya, 41,420 Chins, 10,928 Myanmar Muslims, 5,221 Rakhines and Arakanese.
The report listed the crackdown on rights to freedom of expression and lack of police accountability as six major areas of concern in Malaysia.
Attacks against activists Fahmi Reza and Haris Ibrahim, the travel ban on cartoonist Zunar, the 11-day solitary confinement of Bersih 5.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, and the death of N. Dharmendran in police custody were among the cases highlighted.
The National Security Council Act was a law that infringed basic human rights, Shamini added.