Human rights NGO condemns Bajau Laut evictions

PETALING JAYA: The authorities must cease the evictions and destruction of Bajau Laut homes immediately, says the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra).

Centhra condemned the evictions and destruction of homes belonging to more than 500 Bajau Laut in Sabah, calling it an “egregious violation of human rights”.

“These actions, reportedly part of a broader crackdown on undocumented migrants, represent an egregious violation of human rights and necessitate an urgent re-evaluation of Malaysia’s enforcement practices.

“The Bajau Laut have inhabited these regions for centuries, predating modern national borders. They lack access to basic services and live in constant fear of detention and deportation,” Centhra said in a statement.

It added that the burning and demolishing of homes exacerbate the Bajau Laut’s vulnerabilities and subject them to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

“These actions against the Bajau Laut starkly contrast with Malaysia’s position as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a tenure concluding this year,” it said.

Centhra said the authorities have undermined Malaysia’s commitments to adopt a whole-of-society approach in the promotion and protection of human rights made during the recent 4th cycle of the universal periodic review.

The NGO went on to say that the forced evictions contravene multiple international human rights treaties, to which Malaysia is a signatory.

“We urge the government to respect and protect the rights of the Bajau Laut, halt the evictions and initiate meaningful dialogue and consultation with the Bajau Laut community and stakeholders,” Centhra said.

It added that policies are needed to provide access to essential services for stateless and undocumented residents.

Centhra called for Malaysia to ratify and adhere to key international human rights treaties to demonstrate its commitment to upholding international human rights standards.

“(The government must also) create pathways for the Bajau Laut and other stateless communities to obtain legal status. This involves developing a comprehensive legal framework that provides clear procedures for the recognition of stateless people, ensuring their access to rights and protections under the law,” the NGO said.



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