Detention Centers In State of Disgrace In Malaysia
05 August 2010, KUALA LUMPUR – Immigration Department of Malaysia admits that detention centers used to house illegal migrants in the country are in the state of disgrace with disconnected doors, broken gates, leaking pipes and unpleasant odor.
Immigration Director General, Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman said many of the detention centers are operating since 1960s, being used to detain communist insurgents that threatened the safety of the country in the past.
“We have 13 detention centers in all over the country. The center itself is a legacy of history and it was used to house Communist insurgents. It was managed by different departments including Police, Prison Department and RELA before being taken over by the Immigration Department in 1992,” he told a Malay daily during his recent interview.
Several organizations have been urging the government to solve congestion in detention centers and to ensure hygiene among detainees.
Last year, the outbreak of leptospirosis at Juru Detention Center in the State of Pulau Pinang had claimed two Burmese lives, aged 21 and 26.
Abdul Rahman said the allocation from Malaysia Government is far from enough to upgrade all detention centers in the country.
“We received the allocation of RM7 million (USD $2.2 million) under the government Second Stimulus Package in 2009. We used the money to upgrade four detention centers in Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Johor and Melaka,” he continued.
Meanwhile, security issues of detention centers in Malaysia come under focus after 20 human trafficking victims from Afghanistan broke out of a detention center in such incident for the second time this year.
Police were searching for the detainees, who cut through metal grills and climbed over a fence on Sunday to escape the center nears Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where they had been waiting to be deported.
On the issue, Abdul Rahman said, Immigration are lacking of experience in handling victims of human trafficking, who are housed in detention centers under its care.
“Under the law, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development must house and protect victims of human trafficking.”
“The Ministry, however, gives more focus on female victims while male victims are put under the care of Immigration Department.”
“They should not differentiate between male and female victims, male and female victims alike should be sent to protection center, not into detention center,” he said.
By Thomas Chong