Rohingya teen loses application over immigration documents
SEPANG: The magistrate’s court here has dismissed an application by a Rohingya Muslim teenager to set aside a charge of not possessing valid immigration documents.
The 15-year-old boy, who was arrested in Putrajaya on Dec 11, has been charged under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act for failing to produce a valid UNHCR card.
Magistrate Sharifah Muhaymin Abd Khalib fixed Feb 24 for mention of the case, pending filing of a motion by the accused to the High Court.
Aziatul Afrizan Alias acted for the prosecution while the boy was represented by Collin Arvind Andrew of the Bar Council’s Legal Aid Centre.
Andrew said he would be filing the application to the Shah Alam High Court on Thursday, on grounds that Rohingya asylum seekers, especially children, should not be prosecuted on account of their immigration status.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, he argued before Sharifah that Rohingya children should not be prosecuted even if they are not registered with UNHCR as they are asylum seekers by default.
He cited Article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the fourth preamble of the Child Act 2001, which guarantees protection for all children without distinction or exception.
“This includes asylum seeking children, particularly the Rohingyas.
“They have suffered so much hardship coming into this country and must be distinguished from all other unlawful migrants,” he said.
He told The Star Online later that should the High Court allow his client’s application, it would set an important precedent that all Rohingya children cannot be prosecuted based on their immigration status.
Andrew said that the High Court affidavit would be affirmed by the older brother of his client, who is a registered UNHCR card holder.
He added that the Foreign Ministry had been made aware of his client’s plight, taking into consideration the Government’s recent pledge to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees, who are fleeing persecution in their homeland of Rakhine in Myanmar.