Information transmitted to the Government on cases included in previous reports
372. On 12 November 1991 the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government concerning Aaron Cohen Shelton, reported to have been sentenced in September 1991 to life imprisonment and ordered to be whipped six times under Malaysia's Dangerous Drugs Act.
373. On 5 August 1993 the Government replied that the sentence of whipping had been carried out on 12 December 1991. Whipping had been enforced since 1975 under the above-mentioned Act. It should not be viewed as inhumane or degrading, but in relation to the seriousness and gravity of the crime committed against society and national security. Aaron Cohen Shelton had been charged with possession of heroin and found guilty after the due process of law as provided for by the Malaysian legal system. He had been given every opportunity for a fair and just hearing. The sentence was in accordance and consistent with a law passed by the Parliament freely elected by the people of the country.
374. On 21 August 1992 the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government on behalf of a group of 43 Acehnese asylum-seekers who were occupying the UNHCR premises in Kuala Lumpur because they had been threatened with being forcibly returned to Indonesia. Fears were expressed that, if this happened, they would be at risk of being detained upon arrival and tortured.
375. On 5 August 1993 the Government replied that beginning in June 1991, several groups of Acehnese totalling 290 had landed on Malaysian shores claiming political asylum and refugee status. They had been detained at various immigration detention centres in keeping with the Malaysian laws governing illegal entry of aliens into the country. By August 1993, 162 of those detained had been released and had returned to Indonesia voluntarily. At no time did the Government of Malaysia force them to return to their country. As for the rest, arrangements were being made to release them. Throughout their detention in Malaysia for illegal entry, the Acehnese were provided with all the necessary facilities, including adequate food, shelter and medical treatment. They were never denied or deprived of their basic rights.
376. As for the 44 persons occupying the UNHCR premises in Kuala Lumpur, consultations were taking place between the relevant authorities with a view to providing those who wished to leave the camp with the opportunity to work temporarily in Malaysia in accordance with the relevant laws governing foreign workers in the country. The Malaysian Government had no intention of forcibly returning them to Indonesia. The fact that they were able to remain on the UNHCR premises for so many months, despite being regarded as illegal immigrants, clearly testified to the fact that at no time were they in danger of being forced to return to Indonesia against their free will.