Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Malaysian authorities to release the Bangladeshi migrant Mohamed Rayhan Kabir who was arrested for criticising government policies towards migrants by appearing in an Al Jazeera documentary.
The authorities should immediately release the victim and reinstate his work permit, said HRW in a statement today.
Earlier, the Malaysian authorities arrested Kabir on July 24 and took him to remand for 14 days for further investigation.
Later, it was announced that Kabir will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever. It is still unclear whether he will face criminal charges or not.
"The Malaysian authorities' actions against Kabir send a chilling message to all migrant workers that speaking out about rights abuses risks arbitrary arrest, deportation, and blacklisting," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. "The arrest of a source in a documentary adds to the devastating assault on free speech and media freedom in Malaysia."
Al Jazeera is also facing potential charges of sedition, defamation, and violation of the Communications and Multimedia Act of Malaysia. They are saying Al Jazeera also fimed the documentary without obtaining any license as per regulation of the outdated National Film Development Corporation Act.
"Speaking to the media about the treatment of migrant workers is not a crime, nor is reporting on such abuses," Robertson said.
"The Malaysian government should release Kabir and engage with the criticism to improve respect for human rights in the country," he added.