Rohingya refugees due to be whipped have punishment overturned in Malaysia

A group of 27 Rohingya refugees due to be whipped in Malaysia have been spared after a judge overturned the punishment.

Amnesty International had accused the country of “human torture” after the group were sentenced to three strokes of the rotan (a long rattan cane) in June.

According to human rights campaigners, the men were part of a group of refugees picked up in a boat in Malaysia after previously fleeing violence in Myanmar.

Nine women and 31 men were arrested and sentenced to seven months in jail for entering and staying without a valid work permit, Human Rights Watch said.

27 of the men were also due to be caned until a judge set aside that punishment at a hearing at the High Court today.

Lawyers for the group told Sky News that His Lordship, Dr Arik Sanusi, made the decision because the convicted men are Rohingya refugees in need of international protection due to the persecution they face and the ongoing situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Collin Andrew, who represented the refugees said: “Today’s decision is laudable as it demonstrates the promotion and protection of human rights by the High Court.”

International principals mean they cannot be returned to their home country, and as they are registered as refugees with the United Nations, it would be “inhumane to impose a sentence of whipping.”

They are also not habitual or violent offenders.

Under Malaysia’s Immigration Act 1959-63, anyone who illegally enters the country is liable to a fine up to 10,000 ringgit (£1,857) or up to five years in jail. They can also be whipped up to six times.

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