Media Statement – 24/7/2022
Do not send recently acquitted wrongly convicted migrant worker out of Malaysia until he exercises his rights in Malaysian Courts and other avenues of justice
No attempts of ‘cover-up’ or preventing access of justice
We the 19 undersigned groups are pleased that on 22/7/2022, the Tawau High Court Judge Dr Lim Hock Leng after revision acquitted documented migrant worker, Sabri bin Umar and ordered him released from prison immediately. Sabri was released on 22/7/2022.
On 19/4/2022, Sabri was wrongly convicted for being illegally in Malaysia for the offence under Section 6(1)( c) Immigration Act 1959/63 by the Tawau Session Court, when in fact he was a documented migrant worker with a valid work permit/pass at the material time. This was a fact evident from, amongst others, Sabri’s Indonesian Passport, which was taken by the police when he was arrested on 5/4/2022.
The court acknowledged the fact that Sabri was whipped, which was an act against Malaysian law which prohibits the carrying out the sentence of whipping of the convicted until appeal filed is heard and determined. This was also confirmed by the Prison Department.
The highlighting of Sabri’s miscarriage of justice, vide Joint Media Statement by 45 groups issued on 19/7/2022 entitled, Sabri, Migrant Worker Wrongfully Whipped Before Appeal Heard’ and various letters, including from Sabri’s union, Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU) got the High Court’s attention that led to the calling up Sabri’s case for revision on 22/7/2022.
Worry of deportation or sending of Sabri out of Malaysia
We are worried that Sabri may be deported or send out of Malaysia. This may be conceived as an attempt to ‘cover up’ the possible wrongful actions of the police, immigration department, prison department, prosecution, the employer, the courts and the government that caused an innocent man to be wrongfully charged, convicted and sentenced to 11 months imprisonment and 5 strokes of the whip. Sending out of Malaysia, may impede Sabri’s quest for justice, whereby all legal actions reasonably will have to be commenced in Malaysia and Sabri’s absence from the country may be detrimental to his enforcing his rights.
As it is, Sabri has already commenced a claim for reinstatement by reason of wrongful dismissal at the Industrial Relations Department, which is progressing and will be referred to the Industrial Court. Sabri wants to work and live legally in Malaysia, and his wife is also a migrant worker in the country.
Sabri’s Claims Against Malaysia For Wrongful Conviction And Whipping
Initial investigations have shown that Malaysian government, the police, the Immigration Department, Prosecutors, Prison Department and maybe even the employer may be liable for the grave injustice that has befallen Sabri. Sabri had to spend almost 94 days in prison, and 14 days in detention. He was wrongly whipped 5 times on 23/6/2022, despite there being an appeal that was filed on 22/4/2022 and yet to be heard. Sabri may also have a claim against the Indonesian government, and his lawyer.
The Prison Department, in their letter dated 18/7/2022, stated that the whipping was only carried out after they received a letter from the Session Court saying that there were no appeals from any party. This was false as there was an appeal yet to be heard.
The Immigration Department also furnished false records about Sabri, that also led to the Court being misled into believing that Sabri was an undocumented migrant, who had entered and remained illegally in Malaysia.
Besides the Malaysian government and its various departments, Sabri may also have cause of action against the Indonesian government and the lawyer.
Sending Migrants out of Malaysia impedes ability to maintains claims of rights violation
The speedy sending of migrants out of Malaysia, even when they have valid claims against their employer and/or others, which requires the physical presence of complainant/claimant at the law enforcement departments and/or courts, has denied many a migrant from even being able to claim their rights using the available legal avenues in Malaysia. Calls for confirmation of whether migrant workers have existing rights/claims or ongoing cases before sending them out of Malaysia has yet receive positive response.
- Call on Malaysia and/or Indonesia not to cause Sabri bin Umar to be send out of Malaysia before he can exercise all his rights/claims in Malaysian avenues of justice, including his present claim for reinstatement by reason of wrongful dismissal at the Industrial Department/Court;
- Call on all parties to not threaten, deceive and/or pressure Sabri from exercising his right to claim for damages, compensation and justice from relevant parties that have unjustly deprived Sabri his freedoms and rights, and caused him sufferings; and
- Call on the government of Malaysia to ensure that Sabri can continue to work and stay legally in Malaysia until all his claims for justice are determined and satisfied.
Apolinar Z Tolentino, Jr.
For and on behalf of the 19 organisations listed below
MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region
WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)
North South Initiative
Black Women for Wages for Housework, US
Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia
Club Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia
Haiti Action Committee
Labour Law Reform Coalition, Malaysia
Network of Action For Migrants in Malaysia(NAMM)
Sabah Plantation Industry Employees Union, Malaysia
Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU)
Union of Forestry Employee Sarawak (UFES)
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
The William Gomes Podcast, UK
Timber Employee Union Peninsular Malaysia
Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike, US and UK
See earlier Statement -