SELAMA, April 22 — Rohingya refugees in this country are being treated well, although Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said.
He said that based on humanitarian grounds, Malaysia had provided basic necessities to the refugees for a long time, even though neighbouring countries declined to do so and no third country was willing to accept them.
“They are given free food and shelter so what else do they want us to provide?
“As for now, there is no third country that wants to take them so we have to hold them first,” he told reporters after a breaking-of-fast event at the Selama District Council Hall here today.
He was responding to allegations by certain quarters that the government was treating refugees in detention badly.
Yesterday, human rights group Lawyers for Liberty reportedly blamed the government for the deaths of Rohingya detainees who escaped from the Sungai Bakap Immigration Depot on April 20.
They claimed that there was no reason to cram them in temporary detention centres because they could not be deported due to the “non-refoulement” principle.
Hamzah advised the public not to panic because the escapees were not terrorist groups.
“Please don’t look at Rohingyas as if they are criminals. They are refugees. If you chance upon them, inform (the authorities) immediately so that we can arrest them and send them back to detention centres,” he said. — Bernama