Mass Graves in Malaysia: Fortify Rights wants release of probe report | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:17 AM, September 17, 2020

Mass Graves in Malaysia: Fortify Rights wants release of probe report

Regional rights organisation Fortify Rights has called upon Malaysia to immediately release the final report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the human trafficking and mass graves of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis in 2015.

The RCI submitted to the King of Malaysia one year ago its report on the mass graves in Wang Kelian, where Malaysian authorities discovered 139 graves and 28 suspected human trafficking camps.

"Malaysian citizens and survivors of trafficking deserve access to the final report," said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights in a statement yesterday. "This is a matter of truth, justice, and accountability."

Between 2012 and 2015, transnational criminal syndicates trafficked at least 170,000 people, mostly Rohingya, from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Malaysia, generating an estimated $50 million to $100 million annually.

On February 28 last year, Malaysian authorities announced the creation of the RCI to investigate and ensure accountability for the human trafficking and mass graves discovered in Wang Kelian. The government gave the commission six months to submit its final report and recommendations.

Former Malaysian chief justice Tun Arifin Zakaria led the seven-member RCI, which included former inspector general of police Tan Sri Norian Mai and other former government and elected officials. The RCI called 48 witnesses, including police members and Rohingya survivors, during 17 days of hearings in Kuala Lumpur.

In January this year, former Malaysian home minister and current Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the ministry would present the report to the cabinet in a week and if the cabinet agrees, they will allow the report to be made public.

There has been no further information about the report following this announcement.

In March last year, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and Fortify Rights published a report following a multi-year investigation, which indicated complicity and direct involvement of state authorities in the transnational trade of Rohingya refugees, including in Malaysia.

"he RCI was mandated to help bring perpetrators to justice, and that hasn't happened, said Smith. "The government must act. There have been no changes in policy and not even a formal public reckoning of the crimes committed."

Following a similar discovery of mass graves in Thailand in 2015, Thai courts in 2017 convicted 62 defendants, including nine Thai government officials, for crimes related to the trafficking of Rohingya and Bangladeshis to Malaysia via Thailand.

Since 2015, Malaysian courts have only convicted four people of trafficking-related offenses in relation to the mass graves discovered at Wang Kelian. None of the convicted traffickers are Malaysian nationals.

The US government currently ranked Malaysia a "Tier-2 Watchlist" country, its second lowest ranking, in the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

The 2020 TIP report says, "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, containing bodies of suspected Rohingya and Bangladeshi victims of extortion, torture, and other crimes, authorities have not brought charges against any Malaysian official or private citizen."


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