Migrants were never offered ‘sincere’ amnesty, says rights group

The government says its offer for undocumented migrants to get tested for Covid-19 ‘ended’ when none of them came forward..

PETALING JAYA: A rights group has disputed senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s statement that Putrajaya had offered undocumented migrants amnesty to encourage them to come forward and get tested for Covid-19.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) questioned if Putrajaya’s offer for amnesty was sincere since it came at a time when immigration authorities were conducting raids at locked-down areas.

“Since raids and detentions continued despite the offer for amnesty, of course, no migrants would voluntarily come out to get tested as they cannot trust the authorities to not arrest them if they do come forward.

“They have failed to show any goodwill on their so-called amnesty offer. The migrants are not to blame here,” LFL coordinator Zaid Malek said in a statement today.

LFL said that despite heavy criticism from various human rights groups locally and internationally, Putrajaya was stubborn in insisting that it had the right to detain the undocumented migrants.

It said Putrajaya must suspend all raids and detentions until the pandemic was resolved if it was serious in getting migrants to cooperate and come forward without fear of repercussions.

Ismail had said yesterday said the government’s offer for undocumented migrants to get tested for Covid-19 “ended” when none of them had come forward to be tested.

He said the announcement had been made ever since authorities found that there were undocumented migrants who tested positive in enhanced movement control order (EMCO) areas.

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