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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2557

Courts ordered 30 Myanmar nationals detained at Mirihana Immigration Detention Camp

Jaffna, 03 May, (

The Mallakam Magistrate’s Court, ordered to hand over the thirty Myanmar and two Indian nationals, who were taken into custody by the Sri Lanka Navy, to the Mirihana Immigration Detention Camp.

The group, which included 16 children, was presented before the magistrates’ court yesterday and was initially charged with violating the Immigration Law, a criminal offence under the Sri Lankan legal system.

Magistrate A. Judson ordered to produce a 15-day old infant, who was among the arrested, before the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO).

On 30 April the Sri Lankan Navy took into custody thirty Myanmar nationals and two Indian nationals on charges they had illegally entered the Sri Lankan waters using an Indian trawler and handed them over to the Kankesanthurai Police. After being produced before the Mallakam Magistrate they were remanded until Tuesday under the Immigration Law.

It was revealed during the preliminary investigations that these Myanmar nationals are identified as Rohingya refugees and they have earlier sought asylum in India, due to the ethnic conflicts that prevailed in the country.

They were granted refugee status in India four years ago and it was due to expire in June this year. It is said, this can be the reason behind the illegal fleeing of these refugees to another destination," a Navy Spokesman said.
The Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine state is denied citizenship and faces brutal discrimination in the Buddhist- majority country.

However, according to their lawyer Rushdhie Habeed, the group held refugee cards issued by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

“They have been refugees for the last four years and have passed through Bangladesh and India. In India they have got the UNHCR card. They were offered to be taken to Western Australia by a person there and that is how they have entered Sri Lankan waters,” Habeed explained.

“We have made a plea to the courts to change the charges that have been filed. As they hold valid registration with the UNHCR they cannot be charged under the Immigration Law. Although we are not a signatory to the refugee treaty, we have an MoU with the UNHCR to facilitate refugees,” Habeed said.

The Court has sought clarification on the matter from the Attorney General. The local UNHCR office is in the process of verifying the details given by the group, a spokesperson for the UNHCR said.

- Asian Tribune -

Lawyer Rushdhie Habeed talking to media personnel  outside the Mallakam Magistrate courts
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