Source: ABC Radio Australia
WARNING: This video contains images which may disturb
By Gavin Fang
Amnesty International has accused Malaysia of human rights violations against asylum seekers as it cracks down on people smuggling.
Refugees in Malaysia face detention and caning, and Amnesty says Australia which provides money and training to the country's maritime police is complicit in the ill-treatment.
Malaysia is a key transit country and asylum seekers are known to hide in the coastal villages before heading south by boat towards Indonesia and Australia.
Commander Khoo Teng Chuan of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency says the Malacca Straits, off Port Klang, are a key location in people smuggling.
"This is one of the areas where they will bring the people out," he said.In October, Australia gave Malaysia's maritime enforcement agency, about a million dollars of hardware including patrol boats and hi-tech search equipment to catch people smugglers.
"So basically what the boat will do, [it] will come here, embark the illegal migrants and then they will leave from here."
But it's not just the organisers who can be arrested - asylum seekers are also detained and face up to six strokes of the cane.
Burmese refugee Mawia spent several months in a detention camp in conditions he describes as inhumane.
"I was sentenced to three months in prison and two strokes of the cane," he said.Amnesty International and Malaysian human rights groups say thousands of asylum seekers have been caned - a punishment they describe as torture.
"It was the most terrifying and difficult period in my entire life."
Amnesty International's Graham Thom says Australia is complicit in the ill-treatment.
"Australia certainly has a responsibility to make sure that is training and the way that it is facilitating people being detained are not going to then face human rights violations in Malaysia," he said.But Malaysian authorities are unswayed.
Dato Che Hassan Bin Jusoh, Director of Enforcement with the MMEA, says heavy penalties are needed to act as a deterrent.
"It's harsh, but you see people when they are in the survival situation, they don't care whether you are being punished, whether they are being killed," he said.
"You see when they come here they are taking the risk."