Archived News Item

Human Rights and the Malaysia Plan

Sister Pat Lynch RSM, Institute Justice Core Group, is very concerned about the Australian Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia. Pat worked in refugee camps in Malaysia (1990’s) and in this article she raises her concerns and questions about human rights. Read what action you can take.

It is very unclear what the Malaysia Plan really means for the next  800 asylum seekers who will reach Australia. It appears to be such a loose arrangement with Malaysia that it is difficult to know if these people will be properly protected if/when they are sent there.

Malaysia has a poor reputation for human rights towards its own people, as well as not being a signatory to the UN Convention on the protection of refugees. As our Sisters, who have worked in refugee camps in Malaysia know, the UN employs locals. For many this is “just a job”, while for others it is a conflict of nationalism versus the commitment to the protection of refugees. During the 1990s it took up to four years for asylum seekers to be processed. How will the 800 fare alongside the 190,000 people already waiting for processing in Malaysia?

If the 800 men, women and children are to “live freely” in the community, what does that really mean? Who will be checking that they are not

  • exploited
  • drawn into corruption to survive
  • subjected to bribery to ensure safety
  • have their human rights violated through cruelty?

Who will check that they have food, shelter, clothing and access to medical services? Will the proposed bracelet ensure all the above?  It is doubtful! It seems very timely that we, Sisters of Mercy, colleagues and friends, take action now to express our deep concern. We can do so by contacting:

Minister Chris Bowen, Immigration and Citizenship

Telephone: 02 6277 7860  Fax: 02 6273 4144   Email:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Further Insights:


UNICEF Media Release:

“UNICEF was shocked and dismayed to learn of the Government’s sudden announcement to send vulnerable children to Malaysia”, said UNICEF Australia CEO Dr. Norman Gillespie

“The Australian Government has a legal, moral and ethical responsibility to protect all minors in its care, and UNICEF is calling on the Australian Government to respect these obligations”

“All children deserve a childhood and Australia recognised the importance of protecting the welfare and rights of these most vulnerable members of our society just two decades ago when we signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Go Back to Where You Came From  June 21-23, SBS

Six ordinary Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world. Deprived of their wallets, phones and passports, they board a leaky refugee boat…

Sister Pat Lynch:

Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator