UN, Rights groups concerned for safety of Lankans deported from Malaysia
- Govt. says three men were LTTE operatives, held under PTA
- UNHRC Malaysia deportations took place before security issues assessment could happen
The United Nations has expressed concerns about Malaysia’s decision to deport three men accused of being LTTE operatives.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the BBC’s Sinhala Service that two of the men had already been granted refugee status by the agency, and that the third was seeking asylum.
UNHRC Malaysia Spokesperson Yanti Ismail said the three individuals had not even been permitted to meet with the UN refugee agency before being deported. UNHRC estimates that some 4000 Sri Lankan refugees live in Malaysia. The Agency had requested the Malaysian Government to delay the deportation of the three men, the BBC reported.
Rights Group Human Rights Watch has also expressed fears for the safety of the deportees who are now in Sri Lankan Government custody.
Malaysian authorities deported the three men back to Sri Lanka on Monday after arresting them on 15 May on suspicion of involvement with LTTE.
The Government says the three men, Sangaliraj Gioshanthan, Mahadevan Kiribakaran and Selvthurai Kiribavan, are being accused of raising funds and spreading propaganda for the Tigers. The three deportees are currently in TID custody.
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, had asked the Malaysian Government to delay the deportation of the men.
“We are deeply concerned that these deportations took place without our office being given an adequate opportunity to assess the security issues and the refugees’ entitlement to ongoing refugee protection”, the agency said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch says scores of Tamil deportees to Sri Lanka have been tortured or sexually abused or both.
Police Spokesman Ajith Rohana denied the men were in danger, saying they were “protected” and being given access to their next-of-kin. He said the men were being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.