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UNHCR Holds 2nd Judicial Engagement Workshop for Members of the Judiciary in Malaysia


UNHCR Holds 2nd Judicial Engagement Workshop for Members of the Judiciary in Malaysia

9 October 2023
Briefing of UNHCR processes

Kuala Lumpur - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency organized the 2nd Judicial Engagement Workshop to discuss legal issues and the protection needs for refugees with members of the Judiciary in Malaysia.

38 Malaysian Sessions Court Judges and Magistrates attended the workshop, alongside officers from the Strategic Development and Training Division of the Judiciary.

The Workshop, held on 25 and 26 September 2023 at the UNHCR office and the Palace of Justice, respectively, was officiated by the Registrar of the Subordinate Courts of Malaysia, Tuan Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar.

This is the second collaboration between UNHCR and the Judiciary of Malaysia to deliberate and discuss on the rule of law and refugee protection, following the first judicial engagement workshop that had been held at the end of 2019.

“The judiciary, and the legal community more broadly, have a particularly important role to play in ensuring that all persons, including refugees and migrants, are treated as equal before the law and receive equal protection of the law without discrimination,” said Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia.  “The right to seek and enjoy asylum has long been respected as a fundamental principle of humanity.”

Participants group photo

Participants at the 2nd Judicial Engagement Workshop held at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya.

“It is enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, embodied in the Refugee Convention and numerous regional instruments, and has been reinforced over many decades of State practice. It is a symbol of the best of the human tradition and an expression of fundamental respect for each and every human being.”

Albrecht commented that in recent years, the Malaysian Judiciary has made notable decisions protecting the right of refugees in immigration law and otherwise.

“Interventions made by the Judiciary ensure that legal systems are strengthened as defences against contemporary threats to the rule of law,” said Albrecht. “In the context of refugee protection, the wisdom and continued discretion of the Malaysian Judiciary has had a significant and positive impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

The Judicial Engagement Workshop allowed for dialogue between the members of the Judiciary and UNHCR regarding UNHCR’s refugee mandate and its activities in Malaysia, which include UNHCR’s process of refugee verification, as well as refugee protection topics such as immigration detention and alternatives to detention.

Participants were also provided access to UNHCR’s refugee centre to observe and understand UNHCR’s registration and status determination processes.

Registrar of the Subordinate Courts of Malaysia, Tuan Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar in his opening remarks expressed his hope of a positive outcome for the participants.

"This workshop aims to make participants more aware of the UNHCR mandate, rights of refugees, and best practices," he said. "Equipped with this, only then can the Judiciary form a better understanding of the situation engulfing the refugees vis a vis the issues that they have in our courts."

The workshop overall was well-received by the participants, with many expressing appreciation for the information received, the rich discussions, as well as the exposure to the complexities in refugee protection.

Gift presentation

Thomas Albrecht (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Tuan Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar (right) at the 2nd Judicial Engagement Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Albrecht added that UNHCR deeply appreciates the opportunity to engage with the Malaysian Judiciary on these matters and looks forward to more engagement in the future.

“UNHCR plans to continue our work with the Judiciary of Malaysia on refugee-related matters, including to conduct similar workshops for other members of the Judiciary in the near future,” said Albrecht. “We hope sessions like this will inspire participants to advocate for better protection of refugees in Malaysia through judicial activism.”