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Suhakam slams ‘unacceptable conditions’ at immigration depot

 | September 13, 2017

It says conditions are unsanitary, living quarters are poorly maintained and medical care is inadequate.

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PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) says detainees at the Tanah Merah Immigration Depot are being held in unacceptable conditions, with poor sanitation and inadequate medical care which are some of the more pressing concerns.

This followed a visit by a team to the centre on Aug 23 for an independent and objective inspection of the human rights situation there.

The team, led by Commissioner Jerald Joseph, found that two of the three main blocks made of wooden structures were “dilapidated”.

“To make matters worse, the conditions were unsanitary and the blocks were poorly maintained. Owing to the lack of sufficient ventilation, the blocks were unbearably hot and foul smelling,” Suhakam said in a statement issued by its chairman Razali Ismail today.

Almost all wall fans installed for ventilation purposes were not working, and toilet conditions were “wholly unacceptable” with all five toilets in one complex blocked and not functioning.

Suhakam said many of the detainees also complained of health problems including scabies, back and stomach pains.

It said given the number of detainees and the severity of their health problems, it recommended that the current placement of an assistant medical officer (Grade U32) be immediately replaced with a medical officer.

Suhakam also slammed the complete lack of an outdoor recreation area for detainees, saying the psychological impact of the detention conditions was apparent to its delegation.

“Due to the extremely poor conditions, even the facility staff faced serious health problems.

“It is Suhakam’s view that the poor conditions may further contribute to mental health concerns of both detainees and staff.

“Suhakam recommends that compulsory, free of charge and target specific periodic health screening for immigration staff be offered by the health ministry.”

At the time of the visit, there were 429 detainees at the immigration centre, including 35 women and 82 children below 18 years of age.

This is within the home ministry’s directive that the depot can accommodate up to 800 detainees, although Suhakam noted that the original gazette capacity is 350 (250 male and 100 female). It added that the factors considered by the ministry that support its findings were not known to the commission.


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