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Update info:
23 Oct 2018
Hassan al-Kontar
Gender: M
22 Nov 2018
Distribution date:
23 Oct 2018
UA No:

Syrian refugee Hassan al-Kontar is at imminent risk of deportation to Syria, following his arrest on 1 October at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia where he had been stranded since March. If the deportation goes ahead he will be at risk of grave human rights abuse.

On 1 October, Syrian refugee Hassan al-Kontar was arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for being in a “forbidden area” of the airport. Hassan al-Kontar had been stranded in the departure terminal of KLIA since March 2018, with limited options of onward travel and unable to return to Syria after refusing to enlist in compulsory military service, which is a criminal offence in Syria. Hassan al-Kontar overstayed his Malaysian tourist visa in March and paid a penalty fee before attempting to depart. Unable to come to an agreement on his case, on 4 October, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs publicly confirmed that the Malaysian authorities were considering deporting Hassan al-Kontar back to Syria, where he would be at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance, among other things.

On 5 October, Hassan al-Kontar was transferred to the Department of Immigration. Since then, UNHCR and his lawyer have had limited access to him. He is understood to be held at the Immigration headquarters at Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur. Amnesty International has previously expressed concern at conditions of detention in Malaysia, particularly in immigration detention centres.

Hassan al Kontar is at imminent risk of deportation to Syria. Returning him to Syria would violate the international principle of non-refoulement, which states that governments should not deport persons to places where they may be at risk of serious human rights violations. Amnesty International’s research in Syria has revealed widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses constituting crimes against humanity, including the use of torture, extrajudicial executions, and enforced disappearances of individuals perceived to oppose the Syrian government or other groups. As such, Amnesty International opposes returns to Syria in all cases except where they are voluntary.

According to media reports and his social media posts, Hassan al-Kontar lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 11 years working and avoiding the war in Syria and compulsory military service. He was expelled from the UAE after outstaying his employment visa. He first arrived in Malaysia in October 2017. When his three-month tourist visa in Malaysia expired, he tried to go to Turkey and Cambodia, but was unsuccessful. He had since been stranded in the Kuala Lumpur International airport for about six months. With help from Canadian volunteers, he has applied for a refugee sponsorship application in Canada, which can take almost two years to be processed and without guarantee of acceptance.

Take action

Please write immediately in English, Bahasa Malaysia or your own language urging the authorities to:

  • In accordance with their international obligation, not deport Hassan al-Kontar back to Syria, under any circumstances;
  • Ensure that he has full access to remedies that guarantee his safety;
  • Ensure he is granted access to his lawyer and UNHCR representatives, and that his conditions of detention are in line with international standards.

Ministry of Home Affairs
Home Minister Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Yassin
Block D1, D2 & D9, Complex D, Administrative Center
Federal Territory, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax: (+60) 03-88891613 / 03-88891610
Email: muhyiddin@moha.gov.my; CC: naaim@moha.gov.my
Salutation: Dear Home Minister

Deputy Home Minister Datik Mohd Azis Jamman
Block D1, D2 & D9, Complex D, Administrative Center
Federal Territory, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax: (+60) 03-88891613 / 03-88891610
Email: mohdazis@moha.gov.my; CC: atiqah@moha.gov.my
Salutation: Dear Deputy Home Minister

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.