Legal Rights Group: Why Zakir Gets Special Treatment?

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Malaysia is not honouring an extradition treaty it signed with India by refusing to deport Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to his home country, said legal rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today.

It urged Putrajaya to act against Zakir, who is a Malaysian permanent resident, saying his recent remarks that inflamed racial sentiments showed he was “prejudicial to public order”.

It also reminded the government that it was not obliged to provide any special treatment to Zakir, who is wanted in India for alleged money-laundering and inciting terrorism, claims he had denied.

In a statement, LFL director Melissa Sasidaran said under immigration laws, the government could revoke a person’s permanent resident status if their presence is prejudicial to public order, which is said to be the case with Naik.

“India has requested his extradition to face criminal charges for money laundering. This request should be honoured as Malaysia signed an extradition treaty with India.

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“While section 8 of the Extradition Act 1992 imposes certain restrictions on the power to surrender fugitive criminals to requesting states, there is no evidence to justify Malaysia’s refusal to accede to the extradition request,” said Melissa, in a statement.

Putrajaya and New Delhi are currently at odds over Zakir’s extradition.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said India never pushed for it, noting that his counterpart Narendra Modi had not specifically asked for Zakir to be sent back when both leaders met recently.

But India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told the Hindustan Times that India had specifically requested Zakir’s extradition earlier this year.

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More than 100 police reports have been lodged against Zakir for these statements and, consequently, the police had barred him from further speaking in public.

Although section 8 of the Extradition Act 1992 imposes certain restrictions on the power to surrender fugitive criminals to requesting states, there is no evidence to justify Malaysia’s refusal to accede to the extradition request, Melissa said.

“Even though Zakir has alleged that he would be endangered if he were sent back to India, he has neither provided any evidence to support this claim nor has he applied for refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for his claim to be determined,” she said.

By his own account, Zakir also has the option to relocate to other countries, she added.

Zakir reportedly holds Saudi citizenship and has previously claimed that he has received offers for citizenship from numerous countries.

Melissa said: “Given that Zakir has the option of exercising citizenship or residence elsewhere, questions must surely be asked as to why Malaysia is providing special treatment to Zakir who has repeatedly abused his permanent resident status here, when little consideration has been given to other foreigners who have been summarily deported to their home countries, facing much more serious and genuine risks of persecution.”