Release RCI findings on Wang Kelian, rights group urges govt

One of the abandoned camps in Wang Kelian, Perlis, where more than 100 skeletal remains believed to be those of Rohingya refugees were discovered. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A foreign human rights group has urged Putrajaya to release the royal commission of inquiry’s (RCI) findings on the mass graves discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis, five years ago.

Fortify Rights said Malaysians and survivors deserved to gain access to the findings of the final report, adding that this was about truth, justice and accountability.

“The RCI was mandated to help bring perpetrators to justice, and that hasn’t happened. The government must act.

“There have been no changes in policy and not even a formal public reckoning of the crimes committed,” its CEO, Matthew Smith, said in a statement today, in conjunction with the group’s release of a short film on the Wang Kelian mass graves.

The NGO said then home minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced in January this year the report will be presented to the Cabinet before deciding on making the findings public.

“There has been no further information about the report following this announcement,” it said, adding that it has been about a year since the RCI submitted its report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Fortify Rights highlighted the different reaction that Thailand had after the discovery of similar mass graves in 2015, with the Thai courts in 2017 convicting 62 individuals, including nine government officials, for trafficking Rohingya and Bangladeshis to Malaysia through Thailand.

On the other hand, it said Malaysian courts have only convicted four individuals for trafficking-related offences over the Wang Kelian mass graves, with none of them comprising Malaysians.

It also said Malaysia was classified as a “Tier-2 Watchlist” country in the US 2020 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the second-lowest ranking, taking into account the Wang Kelian issue.

“Despite allegations of official complicity in migrant smuggling and trafficking crimes in relation to the 2015 discovery of migrant camps and mass graves in Wang Kelian, authorities have not brought charges against any Malaysian official or private citizen,” said the 2020 TIP report.

More than 100 skeletal remains believed to be those of Rohingya refugees and close to 150 graves were discovered in the hills of the border town in 2015.

The RCI was led by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria, aided by panel members Noorbahri Baharuddin, Razali Ismail, Junaidah Abd Rahman, Nazirah Hussain and Tan Seng Giaw.

Although four individuals were charged in court over the matter, critics said these were only small-time traffickers.