UNHCR Statement on Recent Allegations Regarding Fraud, Detention Conditions
Kuala Lumpur, 24 November 2014 - UNHCR is aware of and takes very seriously, allegations of fraud arising from its operation in Malaysia, including matters raised in a documentary by broadcast news channel, Al Jazeera English, recently. These allegations are currently under investigation through prescribed procedures.
Whilst UNHCR is not in a position to comment on the specific details of an ongoing investigation, it has a “Zero Tolerance” policy on corruption. Any new and credible information related to these allegations brought to the attention of UNHCR has been, and will continue to be, given due and proper consideration.
The Al Jazeera documentary also includes reference to conditions in immigration detention centres. UNHCR has long been concerned about allegations of mistreatment of asylum-seekers in immigration detention centres and these issues are being raised directly with the Malaysian Government in bilateral discussions.
In general, the presence of such a large and unregulated number of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia raises many protection challenges for refugees and the host society. UNHCR believes the protection of refugees is best achieved through closer cooperation between UNHCR and the Government of Malaysia, particularly in finding viable alternatives to detention and securing a legal basis to their temporary residence in Malaysia.
UNHCR acknowledges that its past procedures to assess asylum-seekers in Malaysia are no longer viable due to the high numbers seeking asylum in the country and the evolving situation in the main country of origin, Myanmar.
During the year, UNHCR has been adjusting its processes to ensure they are responsive to meeting the protection needs of the most vulnerable groups and individuals in the refugee community. We hope that these new procedures will be developed in close cooperation and with the support of, the Government of Malaysia.
Yante Ismail, UNHCR External Relations Officer
Tel: 603 2118 4812