A Malaysian court ordered for the release of seven Rohingya children detained in an immigration detention centre in Malaysia into a NGO shelter, following an application for habeas corpus to challenge their detention brought by their lawyers.

In this landmark judgment, the court recognised the viability of alternatives for children in Malaysia, and for the first time, explicitly referred to the rights of the CRC being applicable to children in immigration detention.

While the High Court judge ruled that the detention order on the children was valid as they were non-citizens who did not have the approval to enter and remain in Malaysia, the judge also noted the requirement for “appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance” as set out in Article 22 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“Without need for further elaboration, this court is of the view that, continued detention of the applicants at the Belantik detention camp, has violated the children’s rights under CRC and also the Child Act 2001 that also recognises the right to protection and assistance in all situation to children regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion and so on,” the judge said in the written decision.

The court ordered that the children be placed in a shelter that can provide for the children’s welfare, and was of the view that Chow Kit Foundation, a local shelter based in Kuala Lumpur, would be able to ensure that these benefits would be available to the children.

Each child was released with a bail of RM500 ($120). The court went on to hold that the safety and welfare of the children at the shelter should also be assured during the ‘detention on them’ and they should be made ‘available’ at all times needed by the authorities for any further ‘action on them,’ including to be present in court to answer any charges if there are such charges. Subsequently, the court made an additional order that the children would be released immediately to the care of UNHCR, as part of immigration’s further action.


Further News Coverage: Judge Sends Seven Rohingya Children from Kedah Immigration Detention to KL Shelter