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I cannot go back to Burma because there is risk to my life. I have no documents here. I am in a stranded situation.1 -undocumented Rohingya man in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaBurmese Rohingyas in Malaysia are living in limbo. Most do not have permission to be in Malaysia. However, they cannot return to Burma, which continues to discriminate and perpetrate gross human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Indeed, although Muslims have inhabited northern Arakan state in Burma since the twelfth century, Burma claims that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, does not recognize them as its citizens, and refuses to receive them back from Malaysia.

Burmese authorities bear responsibility for the Rohingya's flight. Burma's treatment of the Rohingya is addressed in the background section of the report, and the report offers specific recommendations to the Burmese government. The focus of this report, however, is on what happens to Rohingya when they reach Malaysia. There, they are not treated as refugees fleeing persecution who should be afforded protection, but as aliens subject to detention or deportation in violation of Malaysia's international human rights obligations. Malaysia is highly selective with regard to the refugee populations to which it affords protection, and Burmese Rohingya are one of the many groups that the Malaysian government refuses to recognize as having legitimate claims to protection. Although the government informally tolerated the Rohingya in the early 1990s, their situation has deteriorated significantly in recent years. Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia are often detained for months in immigration camps where they suffer malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, and beatings before being pushed over the border into Thailand. The Malaysian government increasingly restricts their access to education and health services, and, to date, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has an office in Malaysia, has been unable to secure effective legal protection for the Rohingya.

Human Rights Watch conducted firsthand research in Malaysia in November and December of 1999 to investigate the treatment of Rohingya. We interviewed some Rohingya who had lived in Malaysia for almost twenty years and others who had just returned from the Thai border; some whom UNHCR recognizes as refugees and others whom it does not.2 We were not able to visit Malaysia's immigration detention camps-these are closed, even to UNHCR-but we did track down and interview Rohingya who had only recently been deported, and we traveled to Dumai, the Indonesian port to which Malaysia sends most Indonesian deportees, to interview individuals who had arrived directly from Malaysia's immigration detention camps where they were detained together with Rohingya. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, we also had meetings with UNHCR protection officers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with undocumented persons, and lawyers with immigration experience.

Abuses by Malaysia
Human Rights Watch recognizes that Malaysia has a long history of serving as temporary host to refugees fleeing persecution and conflict. Legal protection for refugees, however, is nonexistent: Malaysia's refusal to protect the Rohingya is part of a larger failure to protect refugees no matter their provenance or the circumstances which led to their becoming refugees. According to Malaysia's Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, "We do not recognize the status of refugees. . . . [W]e only allow foreigners to stay on a temporary basis after which they have to go back."3 This stance has roots in Malaysia's experience with the Indochinese boat people, who arrived in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s. When Malaysia, in response, began towing boats of refugees back out to sea, an international agreement was reached according to which refugees were to be interned in Malaysia until they could be either resettled to third countries or else repatriated: they were not allowed to stay in Malaysia. This policy persists, despite significant changes to the nature of refugee flows to Malaysia.

Malaysia's treatment of the Rohingya and other refugees falls far short of internationally accepted standards. The country has yet to become party to the main international treaty for the protection of refugees: the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (hereafter referred to as the Refugee Convention) and its 1967 Protocol. At present, Malaysia has no asylum system, and under the country's general immigration law, refugees-even if recognized as such by UNHCR-are considered illegal immigrants. Statements by Malaysian officials suggest that the government fears that by affording protection to refugees it would create a "pull factor." Such fears, though understandable, do not at all justify the abuses detailed in this report.

Although Malaysia has not signed the Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, it is bound by the principle of non-refoulement-a universally accepted prohibition in customary international law on returning refugees to any country where they are likely to be persecuted or from which they would be likely to be expelled to face persecution. Malaysia does not generally return refugees to Burma, but it continues to expel Rohingya to Thailand. It does this because Burma will not accept them back and because Rohingya generally enter Malaysia by way of the Thai border. However, Thailand also has not ratified the Refugee Convention and its Protocol, and Rohingya expelled to Thailand risk detention and deportation to Burma. A state which returns refugees to a third country in which they do not have access to asylum procedures and from which they may be returned to their country of nationality violates the principle of non-refoulement.4 Thailand is not a country that is willing to protect the Rohingya, and in deporting the Rohingya to Thailand, Malaysia violates the principle of non-refoulement.

Rohingya who have been deported from Malaysia but who manage to avoid detection by Thai immigration authorities usually reenter Malaysia as quickly as they can. Many of the Rohingya Human Rights Watch interviewed had been deported and had reentered several times, including one man who had been through this cycle eight times in eleven years. At each step in the cycle, the Rohingya are bribery fodder for unscrupulous police officers and immigration officials.

Without permission to live legally in Malaysia and without any means to obtain such permission, Rohingya find themselves locked in poverty, with their children not permitted to attend school, and at constant risk of arrest. Malaysian police and immigration officers are woefully ignorant of what it is to be a refugee, and officials at all levels of government tend to ignore UNHCR documents and its urgent requests that particular asylum-seekers and refugees not be detained and repatriated. Low-level police and immigration officials possess broad discretion and power under Malaysian law. What few protections that are mandated, such as judicial review of detention, are often not complied with. Out of the eye of domestic and international monitors, detainees in Malaysia's immigration detention camps are robbed, beaten, inadequately fed, and denied medical care. Sometimes they die as a result. Children are detained with unrelated adults, separated from their families, and deported alone to the Thai border. When these abuses have been brought to light, the Malaysian government has shown more interest in attacking the source of the information than addressing the source of the abuse.

UNHCR's Role
Malaysia is responsible for protecting Rohingya refugees on its soil. But when it fails to do so, UNHCR, with a broad mandate to provide international protection and seek durable solutions for refugees worldwide, has an obligation to fill the gap. Malaysia's reluctance to cooperate with UNHCR makes the organization's work difficult, and it needs additional support from the international community. Nonetheless, UNHCR has done to little to date to provide protection and to seek durable solutions for the Rohingya in Malaysia.

At present, UNHCR screens Rohingya for refugee status, provides those it determines to be refugees with a letter to that effect, and seeks to resettle refugees in third countries. It also appeals to the Malaysian government in individual cases to release refugees from immigration detention. Almost all of the Rohingya Human Rights Watch interviewed in late 1999 had already been screened and rejected by UNHCR during the year. In fact, in the whole of Malaysia, only forty-three Rohingya were granted refugee status in 1999 while 1,473 were rejected, although conditions in Burma remain dismal for Rohingya. The Burmese military government, now called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), refuses to recognize them as citizens: as a result they are denied freedom of movement, secondary education, and certain employment opportunities. The Burmese military also subjects the Rohingya to forced labor and arbitrarily confiscates their property. The high rejection rate of Rohingya asylum-seekers in Malaysia, as well as comments made by UNHCR staff to Human Rights Watch, together with the fact that systematic abuses against Rohingya continue in Burma, strongly suggest that Rohingya who have valid refugee claims are being denied refugee status by UNHCR.

UNHCR should also address problems regarding access by refugees and asylum-seekers to its Kuala Lumpur office, and improve its procedures for status determinations. Some of the policies and procedures of the Kuala Lumpur office are commendable: they include distribution of an informational brochure, provision of translators in most cases, and multiple interviews. However, other aspects of the process are not in accord with international standards and should be modified so that refugee status determinations are more fair and accessible to asylum-seekers. The office is located in a neighborhood where there is no public transportation, making it difficult and costly for asylum-seekers to reach it. And when they do, they are not allowed into the UNHCR compound on their first visit. One asylum-seeker who Human Rights Watch referred to the office was questioned extensively about his case by the office guards, denied entry, and actively discouraged from applying. "The Burmese time is past," the guards told him. When he persisted, the guards gave him a form in English and told him to fill it out on the spot. Unsure of the form's significance and of his own facility in English, the asylum-seeker left.5 Applicants who are screened and rejected are not given individualized reasons for their rejection and, thus, have no basis on which to make a meaningful appeal. In addition, appeals are not truly independent: the two protection officers in Kuala Lumpur merely review each other's decisions, and there is no appeal outside the office. UNHCR should reform its decision-making process to be more transparent and credible. The reform effort should include making public statistics on the origin, numbers, legal status, and gender of those applying for refugee status as well as application, rejection, and appeal rates by nationality.Working without any helpful domestic law context, with limited resources, and with an uncooperative host government, UNHCR faces an unenviable task in Malaysia. But it must not let the Rohingya fall through the cracks.

The Rohingya's Citizenship
The Burmese government's denial of citizenship to Rohingya is a primary factor causing them to flee to Malaysia and other countries, and a primary reason why they cannot return to Burma. Burma treats most Rohingya as foreign residents and refuses to take back from Malaysia Rohingya who have fled to seek asylum or escape the harsh conditions to which they are exposed in Burma. International standards prohibit such practices: Burma is clearly violating international standards by not recognizing the Rohingya's valid claims to Burmese citizenship and rendering them potentially stateless. Primary responsibility therefore lies with the Burmese government to reform its current citizenship laws and to ensure that the Rohingya have access to full citizenship rights and are not rendered stateless.

Until it does so, however, the Rohingya are left in a state of legal limbo, without legal residency and its accompanying rights in any country. Their predicament has real human consequences, particularly for children. Neither Malaysia nor UNHCR is taking the implications of the Rohingya's uncertain citizenship adequately into account. Malaysia, at minimum, should ensure that all Rohingya adults obtain temporary legal status and that allRohingya children born in Malaysia are registered at birth. UNHCR should activate its mandate on statelessness to assist Rohingya. It should also take fully into account the Rohingya's inability to acquire citizenship in their home country when determining refugee status. Struggling to survive in Malaysia, the Rohingya cannot be expected to continue living in limbo in the hope of a long-term solution in Burma. "I have temporary work here," one Rohingya told us. "My life is temporary as well."6

A Note on Terminology
As used in this report, the terms "refugee," "asylum-seeker," and "undocumented person" have distinct meanings. The definition of "refugee" used here is that used in international treaties: a person who is outside his or her country and is unable to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Persons are refugees whether or not they are officially recognized by UNHCR or by a state. The term "asylum-seeker" is used here to denote persons who may be refugees but who have not been recognized as such pending review of their cases by UNHCR or by a state. Finally, the term "undocumented person" is used for all persons present in a state without formal permission to be there. It includes both those with no official form of identification, such as the Rohingya in Malaysia, and those with passports from their home country but without visas allowing them entry into Malaysia. Some refugees and asylum-seekers are undocumented persons; some are not.


To the Malaysian Government
Until such time as it is safe for the Rohingya to go back to Burma, they should be afforded full protection and assistance in Malaysia. Given the current conditions in the Rohingya's home state of Arakan, Burma, there should be no summary deportation of undocumented Rohingya either to Burma or to Thailand. Such deportation violates the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.

The Protection of Refugees ·
The government should immediately release from immigration detention all refugees, asylum-seekers, and persons who are registered with the UNHCR office in Kuala Lumpur. In accord with international principles prohibiting the refoulement of refugees and asylum-seekers, under no circumstances should any of these persons be returned to their own countries where they would face persecution or to third countries where they could not be guaranteed adequate protection. Rohingya, therefore, should neither be returned directly to Burma nor expelled to Thailand where they would not be guaranteed protection.

· The Malaysian government should demonstrate its commitment to international human rights standards by becoming a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Ultimately, Malaysia should develop its own asylum and refugee procedures and pass appropriate implementing legislation. These procedures should be available to all asylum-seekers, regardless of nationality.

· Until it has in place asylum and refugee procedures that fully conform with international human rights and refugee law standards, the Malaysian government should:
· Grant UNHCR immediate and continued access to all asylum-seekers in immigration detention facilities, regardless of their nationality;

· Train police, immigration officials, and magistrates to recognize UNHCR documents and to refrain from arresting, detaining, and deporting refugees and persons registered with the UNHCR office. Immigration officials, police officers, and magistrates should also receive specific training from UNHCR or anotherqualified organization relating to the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers under international law and the human rights of all persons;

· Create a mechanism for identifying asylum-seekers who may be detained and for notifying UNHCR at once when an asylum-seeker is detained. All foreigners detained under the 1959/1963 Immigration Act should be provided information about refugee status and the rights of refugees under international law, and should be given the opportunity to contact UNHCR.

· Provide opportunities for local integration in Malaysia to Rohingya recognized as refugees by UNHCR.Local integration involves integration into society for long-term or permanent settlement with the possibility of eventually acquiring full citizenship. Temporary residence, through which the Rohingya could pursue a more normal life in Malaysia until an improvement in the situation in Burma could facilitate their return, is a less satisfactory option but one that could achieve some of the basic objectives of full local integration. If the remaining Rohingya refugees received temporary residence, they could seek legal employment, enroll their children in school, and obtain health services, as well as enjoy the legal protections available to other foreign visitors.

Preventing Corruption by Government Officials ·
The Malaysian government, and, in particular, the Anti-Corruption Agency, should take immediate steps to end pervasive corruption in the handling of undocumented persons by police and immigration officials. Senior officials in each agency with responsibility for implementing the immigration laws should make it clear that abuse of undocumented persons is inconsistent with Malaysian and international law and will not be tolerated. All allegations of abuse by government officials should be investigated thoroughly and the responsible officers brought to justice or subjected to appropriate disciplinary measures.

· Where persons in immigration detention are not allowed to retain their belongings, they should be issued a receipt and be allowed to collect their possessions before repatriation.

Immigration Detention ·
Malaysia should become a party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1984 Convention Against Torture. Detention conditions for undocumented persons and asylum-seekers should be made to conform with international and domestic standards, including the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. Detainees are entitled to sufficient food and water, prompt access to medical treatment, adequate washing facilities, and clean and adequate bedding. They must not be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

· All efforts should be made to minimize the period undocumented persons and asylum-seekers spend in detention where there is uncertainty about an individual's status. In accordance with the Body Of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, all undocumented persons who are apprehended and held in custody must have "an effective opportunity" to have their case reviewed "promptly" by a judicial and other authority. Continued detention should not be permitted except on the basis of clear and specified conditions, and should be subject to periodic review and to a maximum time limit. All persons detained on immigration charges should be brought before a magistrate as required by Section 51(5)(b) of the 1959/1963 Immigration Act. The current practice of protracted, judicially unsupervised detention of undocumented persons is inconsistent with international human rights standards, Article 5 of Malaysia's Federal Constitution, and Section 51(5)(b) of Malaysia's Immigration Act.

· Conditions in immigration detention camps should be regularly inspected by an independent state authority which should make public its findings. Independent, non-governmental organizations should also be allowed to inspect these facilities to ensure compliance with international standards. In particular, UNHCR should have full and free access to detention camps in order to identify, assist, and protect asylum-seekers andrefugees in immigration detention. Other international bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross should be invited to visit the camps regularly.

· Clear rules of conduct and disciplinary rules for guards in immigration detention camps should be instituted and made public. All guards should be trained in appropriate disciplinary procedures and rules regarding the use of force. Any incidents involving the use of force by guards should be fully investigated and reported. The failure by guards to report incidents involving the use of force should be an infraction subject to disciplinary proceedings.

· The Malaysian Immigration Department should make clear that any form of sexual abuse of detainees is unacceptable. Individuals should have secure mechanisms to report abuse, and sexual abuse of detainees in immigration camps should be vigorously prosecuted.

The Protection of Children ·
The Malaysian government should revoke its reservations to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and bring its national laws into conformity with the treaty. Specifically, it should revoke reservations to Articles 7, 28(1)(a), and 37, relating to birth registration, universal primary education, and detention of children. In addition, Malaysia should promptly submit its initial report on its efforts to give effect to the rights recognized under the treaty, which was due on March 19, 1997, to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

· The Education Ministry and the Immigration Department should cooperate with each other to ensure that all children, including children of refugees and asylum-seekers, are enrolled in school at both the primary and secondary levels.

· Children-those under eighteen years of age-should not be detained in immigration detention camps, and the Immigration Department should explore alternatives to detention as required by Article 40(4) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Where there is no alternative to detention, placement should be for the shortest possible period of time, and children must be separated from adults who are not their family members. Children should have access to education while in detention. Families should not be detained if possible, and, if they must be detained as a measure of last resort, should not be separated. If no alternative to separation exists, regular contact must be facilitated, and under no circumstances should children be deported separately from their parents.

Preventing Statelessness ·
The Malaysian government should sign and ratify the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The government should request UNHCR to provide technical and advisory services as well as training on the prevention and reduction of statelessness.

· Malaysia should assist in providing temporary identification papers for Rohingya adults and allow them access to employment and health services.

· The National Department of Registration should make efforts to ensure that all children who are born in Malaysia, regardless of their nationality, are registered upon birth and provided with birth registration documents. Registration should be conducted at a location suitable for refugees, not at local police stations.

· Malaysia should interpret its laws as applicable to Rohingya children. Specifically, Rohingya children whose citizenship is in question and who are born in Malaysia should acquire Malaysian citizenship under Article 14(1)(b) and the Second Schedule, Part II of Malaysia's Federal Constitution. However, the possession of Malaysian citizenship should not restrict the right to return to Burma and to opt for Burmese citizenship should that become available to them.

To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): ·
UNHCR should fill the Head of Office and Junior Protection Officer (JPO) positions for the Kuala Lumpur liaison office.

Improving Access to the Office for Malaysia ·
Applicants who approach UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur should be allowed to enter the office gate; they should not be kept outside on their first visit. Where security is a concern, appropriate, tailored measures such as those detailed in UNHCR's 1995 training module on Interviewing Applicants for Refugee Status (RLD 4) should be taken that do not deter or prevent applicants from approaching the office. The occurrence of demonstrations by asylum-seekers does not justify closing off the compound and restricting access to UNHCR for asylum-seekers.

· Guards at the gate should be prohibited from questioning asylum-seekers about their cases, requesting supporting evidence, or discouraging individuals from applying. Their functions should not include explaining the application procedure, distributing the pre-interview form, or explaining how to fill out the form. This should be done only by UNHCR staff specifically trained to do this work. The role of the guards should be strictly limited to providing security and their interactions with asylum-seekers should be carefully monitored. In addition, guards should receive basic training on how to work with refugees and asylum-seekers.

Informational Brochure ·
UNHCR should redraft the informational brochure currently provided to applicants so that it is easily understood by persons without expertise in refugee law. It should also be expanded to explain the application procedure, and a flow chart or other pictorial representation of the procedure, including expected waiting time, should be included. The brochure should be translated into the languages of significant population groups seeking protection. The Kuala Lumpur office should insure that every potential applicant who approaches the office receives a copy of the informational brochure. In addition, the brochure should be distributed widely: copies should be sent to local NGOs and other U.N. agencies, and it should be made available to Malaysian immigration officials who should distribute it to asylum-seekers in detention and at ports of entry.

Refugee Status Determination Procedures ·
In light of current human rights conditions in Arakan and the high denial rates for Rohingya in Malaysia, the UNHCR Kuala Lumpur office should reassess its evaluation of conditions in Burma and produce a set of transparent criteria to assess Rohingya claims to refugee status. This evaluation should be based on independent sources of information regarding human rights conditions in Burma and should take into account the link between uncertain nationality and persecution.

· UNHCR staff should explain the significance of the pre-interview form to all asylum-seekers. Asylum-seekers should be allowed to take the form home and fill it out in their own time. Appropriate space and sufficient time should be provided to those asylum-seekers wishing to fill out the form at the UNHCR office. Applicants should be allowed to fill out the form in the language in which they feel most comfortable and not be restricted to English or Bahasa Malaysia.

· UNHCR should support a procedure in which independent legal assistance is available to applicants. This could include providing training and financial assistance to NGOs such as Tenaganita (Women's Force) or to the Malaysian Bar Council's legal aid program. Understanding that the ultimate objective should be handing over asylum screening to Malaysia, this would set an important example of a screening program's necessary elements.

· In its rejection letters, UNHCR should clearly state the reasons for its decision. These reasons should be particular to the individual's case and not merely contain standardized language.

· UNHCR should provide for an independent appeal of refugee status determinations-that is, one by a organ different than the one making the initial decision. The current system of processing appeals within the country office does not constitute an independent appeal. This appeal should review not only new information but also whether the law was correctly applied.

Disclosure of Statistics ·
In a way that does not compromise confidentiality, UNHCR should make public clear, current statistics on:
· the number of individuals approaching the office;
· the number of individuals applying for refugee status;
· basic information about who is applying for refugee status, including gender, legal status, and country of origin;
· the amount of time between applications and decisions; and
· the application, rejection, appeal, and success rates by nationality.This information would allow for transparency and accountability and would inform the interested international community. We understand that, in accord with a decision made at a 1995 UNHCR meeting in Kuala Lumpur, UNHCR is already recording this vital information; therefore it is possible for it to be publicly disclosed.

Promoting Refugee Protection in Malaysia ·
UNHCR should seekdurable solutions for the Rohingya. It should continue to resettle refugees in third countries while pressing the Malaysian government to fully integrate refugees into Malaysian society.

· UNHCR should offer the Malaysian government training, technical advice, and guidance on respecting the rights of refugees and on developing its own asylum procedures. In particular, it should offer training to police officers, immigration officials, and magistrates regarding working with refugees and respecting refugee rights.

· UNHCR should continue to urge the Malaysian government to sign and ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.

· Until Malaysia takes these steps, UNHCR should continue to press vigorously the Malaysian government:
· to grant UNHCR prompt and regular access to all asylum-seekers in immigration detention;
· to recognize UNHCR status determinations; and
· to refrain from detaining and returning refugees to places where they face persecution.

Reducing Statelessness ·
UNHCR should activate its mandate on statelessness for Rohingya in Malaysia, regardless of their refugee status. In particular, it should continue to urge the Malaysian government to sign and ratify the international instruments on the prevention of statelessness, and should provide technical advice and advisory services to the government on drafting nationality legislation so as to avoid and reduce statelessness. It should provide appropriate training to government officials and disseminate information on avoiding the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship or actions which often result in statelessness. Training should also cover birth registration of all children, regardless of their legal status.

UNHCR in Burma ·
UNHCR should provide the Burmese government with technical advice and training on the prevention and reduction of statelessness, with particular reference to Rohingya, in accordance with its mandate on statelessness under Article 11 of the 1961 Convention on the Prevention of Statelessness, subsequent UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusions, and U.N. General Assembly resolutions. UNHCR should also urge the Burmese government to sign and ratify the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

To the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of Burma ·
The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) should immediately amend or appeal the 1982 Citizenship Act "to abolish its over-burdensome requirements for citizens"-requirements that, as the U.N. Special Rapporteur to Burma has pointed out, have "discriminatory effects on racial and ethnic minorities." The SPDC should grant the Muslims of Arakan, including children born in Malaysia, full citizenship and accompanying rights.

· The Burmese government should sign and ratify the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The government should request UNHCR to provide technical and advisory services on drafting legislation as well as training on the prevention and reduction of statelessness.

· The SPDC should immediately cease the practice of forced labor in Arakan and across Burma in compliance with the 1930 ILO Convention on forced labor, signed by the Burmese government in 1955. Toward this end, as recommended by the ILO, the SPDC should amend or appeal the sections of the Village and Towns Acts that legally sanction the conscription of labor.

· The SPDC should also cease practices such as the arbitrary confiscation of property without compensation and the denial of freedom of movement within Arakan, which together violate the right of Rohingya to equal protection under the law, as set forth in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

· The Burmese government should fulfill its commitment to respect the rights of children set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Burma in 1991. All Rohingya children should be granted full Burmese citizenship and accompanying rights, including those born in Malaysia to Rohingya parents. Children must not be forced to work under any circumstances, and the government should not discriminate against Muslim children in its provision of health and education benefits.

To the International Community ·
Donor governments should continue to encourage Malaysia to protect all refugees on its soil and to permit local integration or temporary residence for the Rohingya population. In the spirit of burden sharing, donors should also offer financial contributions to local integration.

· The international community should also provide third country resettlement possibilities as a durable solution for Rohingya refugees. For those persons who are unable to receive permanent protection in Malaysia, the international community must give due consideration to resettlement in a third country.

· Donor countries should provide adequate financial support for the initiatives recommended to UNHCR. This should include support for training Malaysian police, immigration officials, and magistrates on refugee rights and for training the Malaysian government on preventing statelessness; for creating an independent appeals process; for addressing problems of potential statelessness; and for providing legal representation orassistance for refugee status interviews. In addition, governments should support UNHCR in its efforts to fill the Head of Office and Junior Protection Officer (JPO) positions in the Kuala Lumpur Office.

· The international community must step up efforts to ensure that conditions are created under which Rohingya can return to Burma in safety and with dignity and with human rights guarantees. The international community should coordinate their efforts to press the Burmese government to implement the resolutions of the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, which call on the Burmese government to address the causes of displacement.

1 Human Rights Watch interview, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 30, 1999.

2 All undocumented persons interviewed requested anonymity, and their names have not been used.

3 Joniston Bangkuai, "500,000 Illegals Expected to Leave," The New Straits Times (Malaysia), September 4, 1999, p. 14.

4 Executive Committee Conclusion No. 58 (XL) (1989); Executive Committee Conclusion No. 15 (XXX) (1979), para. (h)(iv), (vi); High Commissioner for Refugees, "Background Note on the Safe Country Concept and Refugee Status," Sub-Committee for the Whole on International Protection, U.N. Doc. EC/SCP/68, July 26, 1991, para. 13; Report of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection, U.N. Doc. A/AC.96/781 (9 Oct. 1991), para. 34. See Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, The Refugee in International Law, 2d. Ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 333-44; European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Safe Third Country: Myths and Realities, (February 1995).

5 Human Rights Watch interview, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 17, 1999.

6 Human Rights Watch interview, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 17, 1999.

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