Rights Group: Unlawful to Revoke Work Permit of Migrant in Al Jazeera Documentary

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Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has criticised the enforcement authority for what it claimed as illegally revoking the work permit of a Bangladesh national who appeared in the contentious Al Jazeera documentary on migrant workers.

The group demanded the authorities cease their manhunt and persecution against 25-year-old migrant worker Md Rayhan Kabir.

“We view with grave concern the revelation yesterday by Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador that the Immigration Department has revoked the work permit of the Bangladeshi man,” said LFL coordinator Zaid Malek in a statement today.

“The extent the authorities are willing to go to in order to hunt down one man for merely speaking up on his experience of injustice to the media is alarming.

“Through no fault of his own, the man has now been rendered undocumented by the authorities.

“The revocation of the Bangladeshi man’s permit is a blatant abuse of power and flouting of the law by the Immigration Department,” Zaid said.

Zaid also cited Section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63, which allows the director-general of the Immigration Department to cancel a permit if it is prejudicial to public order, public security, public health or morality in Malaysia.

LFL said it is not convinced that the migrant worker had violated the relevant law.

“It is inconceivable that the mere action of highlighting his plight to the media would fall under any of the categories listed under section 9(1)(c) of the Act.

“It seems as if the Immigration Department is trying to legitimise the witch hunt on this man for daring to speak out against it. This act only serves to strengthen the allegation that migrants are being unfairly treated and targeted by the authorities.

“The illegitimate manhunt and persecution of this innocent man must not be allowed to continue.

“We demand the authorities to immediately halt its unjustified and unlawful pursuit of this man and strongly urge the government to immediately step in and stop this clear abuse of power by the authorities,” Zaid added.

He said the illegitimate manhunt and persecution of this innocent man must not be allowed to continue.

The Immigration Department is searching for Rayhan and several others to assist with its probe under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

This came after police opened an investigation paper under several offences, including sedition, against Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera’s ‘101 East’ programme over its 25-minute documentary that was aired on July 3.

The documentary highlighted the government crackdown and handling of undocumented migrants during the movement control order (MCO) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since its release, netizens have taken to social media to call out the alleged misrepresentation of facts in the report, with calls for the reporters and Rayhan to be deported.

Some have taken to doxing the latter, by revealing his purported known locations and place of work.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has denied accusations of racism against the government action and demanded the news agency apologises. – Malaysiakini