Caning a violation of human rights
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has called for an immediate halt to caning people, a punishment widely used against immigration offences by the Malaysian authorities, saying it is a violation of human rights.
The authorities caned at least 34,923 migrants between 2002 and 2008. Of them, 3.6 percent were Bangladeshis, according to prison department records aired in parliament last week, says an AI release on July 2.
Majority 60.2 percent migrants caned were Indonesians, 14.1 percent Filipinos, 13.9 percent Myanmarese, 2.8 percent Thais and 5.4 percent from other countries, including India and Nepal.
Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which has been prohibited under international human rights law. The practice is humiliating and it causes such pain that people have reportedly fainted.
Those caned often carry scars -- psychological as well as physical -- for years. The severity of the pain and suffering often means that whipping is, in fact, a form of torture.
Since amendments to Malaysia's Immigration Act came into force in 2002, a total of 47,914 migrants have been sentenced to caning for immigration offences.
“International standards make clear that such treatment constitutes torture,” said AI, expressing concern that documented workers whose passports have been withheld by their employers, asylum seekers and refugees, besides undocumented workers, are also at risk of being caned.
Undocumented workers are often ignorant of procedures and are themselves often victims of deceit at the hands of migrant worker traffickers or unscrupulous employers. Caning is used in Malaysia as a supplementary punishment for at least 40 crimes.
AI calls on the Malaysian authorities to repeal all laws providing for whipping and all other forms of corporal punishment and to ratify relevant human rights treaties and, in particular, the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Migrant Workers' Convention.
Malaysia, which depends largely on migrant labour, is the largest labour receiving country in South East Asia.
Following recent reports that numerous Indonesian maids were being abused in Malaysia, Indonesia on June 25 announced it would stop sending domestic helpers to Malaysia.
Sources said estimated five lakh Bangladeshis work in Malaysia and labour exploitation has been a common story for long there.