Rohingya refugees intercepted by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency off Langkawi island are handed over to immigration authorities, at the Kuala Kedah ferry jetty in Malaysia [File: Reuters]

A Malaysian court will hear a bid to set aside caning sentences handed down to 27 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, lawyers said, a punishment that rights groups have decried as vicious and tantamount to torture.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has long been a common destination for Rohingya seeking a better life after escaping a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar and, more recently, refugee camps in Bangladesh.

But Malaysia, which does not recognise refugee status, has recently turned away boats and detained hundreds of Rohingya, saying it can not take in more migrants because of the struggle its economy

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