Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Malaysia speeds up deportation project

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia said yesterday it was fast-tracking the deportation of illegal migrants under a pilot project that will see offenders handed a fine and a one-way ticket home — bypassing court and jail.

“We have got more than 1 million people who are illegals in this country so I don’t think our prisons are big enough,” Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told a press conference. “So if people have overstayed slightly, we will try to sort it out.”

Under the present system, illegal migrants are arrested, charged in court and face a variable fine or jail sentence.

But under the scheme, launched at Kuala Lumpur’s main airport, offenders will have their biometric details recorded — including fingerprints and facial recognition data — before being served with a small fine.

The cost of their flight home will be covered by employers’ bonds which are paid when hiring a foreigner.

“We are just beginning the test project ... Once this system is established and we are confident that it works, then we are going to install it at all our entry and exit points,” senior home ministry official Raja Azahar said.

Migrant rights group Tenaganita criticized the new approach, which will give visa overstayers no right to appeal in court or to be represented by a lawyer.

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