“Home Minister must consult with CSOs over appalling conditions of detention”

Letter to Editor

WE read with dismay the response by newly-minted Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to the call for help from several detainees at the Kimanis immigration detention centre.

Instead of underplaying the plea for assistance, Saifuddin should have visited the detainees, who have been in the centre between one to three years. It’s irresponsible to dismissively say, “the weight loss was not because of his detention. That happened before entering the depot,” as reported by Malaysiakini.

Issues relating to the appalling conditions of detention have been repeatedly raised by civil society organisations (CSOs) and SUHAKAM.

This looks like the minister is serious about taking “tips” from his predecessor, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.

We urge Saifuddin to instead speak to representatives from CSOs and community-based organisations as we have a better understanding of the ground reality that concerns refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers.

Hamzah was incredibly hostile towards refugees and migrant workers as opposed to looking at progressive policies that would allow them to plug the holes in labour market shortages, contribute effectively to the Malaysian society and ensure their rights and interests are protected.

We need Saifuddin to look into laws and policies for the management of foreign workers that would cover every stage of the migration cycle, from worker recruitment to work placement, employment, repatriation and reintegration.

Refugees and asylum seekers too need to make a living and as such we hope Saifuddin would look at their right to work under the existing legal framework, the IMM13 under Immigration Act.

We also encourage the Home Minister to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and SUHAKAM to visit immigration detention centres where refugees and migrants are held following raids, especially after the recent call for help by the detainees in Kimanis.

While the Government’s pledge to ensure no one is marginalised or discriminated upon in Malaysia is heartwarming, we would also like it to include issues concerning the protection of the fundamental human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers.

We therefore hope the Home Minister would come up with better policies, that’s in line with international standards, through consultations with CSOs, community-based organisations and other key stakeholders. — Dec 10, 2022


Beyond Borders Malaysia, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, North South Initiative, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, Tenaganita, Pemuda Sosialis, Refugee Emergency Fund, James Bawi Thang Bik.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: Yahoo News Malaysia

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