Malaysian Bar Council wants anti-immigration body disbanded

December 7th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 7 (IANS) The Malaysian Bar Coun­cil has called for Rela, the civilian vigilante oeganisation tasked to detect illegal migrants, to be disbanded following numerous reports that allege “members’ abuse of their powers during enforcement raids.”Rela, a legally constituted body, is known to target visitors and tourists who overstay in search of jobs, and other illegal migrants of whom a large number are from South Asia and other Southeast Asian neighbours of Malaysia.

Bar Council Law Reform and Special Areas chairman M. Ramachelvam, an ethnic Indian, said Rela members were not trained for such jobs and would perpetuate human rights abuses if allowed to carry out raids.

Ramachelvam said that the government should instead employ more immigration officers to carry out the job.

“How can they (Rela members) become law enforcers when they undergo only two weeks of training? That is okay if their role is confined to directing traffic but not conducting raids as they are doing now,” Ramachelvam said.

“Rela is not equipped to determine the authenticity of the documents carried by migrants,” he said here, chairing a round table discussion on the “Arrest and Detention of Migrants”, the Star newspaper said Sunday.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the relevant government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The Bar Council also called on the government to set up special sessions courts and to engage more legal aides to expedite immigration cases involving migrants, Bernama, the official Malaysian news agency reported.

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