PETALING JAYA: The allegations made by two Cambodian maids of the torture of detainees at the Juru detention depot in Penang mark a new low for human rights in Malaysia, says Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.
The human rights NGO today slammed the Malaysian Government’s slow response to complaints of bad conditions at Malaysian immigration detention camps.
“With the large number of asylum seekers, refugees and illegal migrant workers detained in Malaysia, the conditions in these camps have deteriorated and are distressing,” Sevan told FMT.
“Despite the repeated calls by civil societies for proactive action to be taken to remedy the situation, the government’s response to the concerns has been slow and opaque.”
This follows reports by Cambodia Daily that two Cambodian maids released from the Juru detention depot had alleged torture of detainees by depot staff.
One of them had claimed she knew of at least three detainees who shared the same block with her dying of injuries from beatings.
The Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia has reportedly been ordered to investigate the allegations of torture and to find out if any more of its citizens were in Juru.
“We can describe the appalling living conditions … as a gross human rights violation, but the existence of torture and physical violence by depot staff and the scale at which it occurs elevates the issue from human rights violations to the realm of crimes against humanity,” Sevan said.
Suaram has called for immediate investigation into the matter by all relevant enforcement agencies.
“Those who have committed these vile and heinous acts must be brought to justice immediately,” Sevan said.
According to the report, one of the women had said she had been working as a domestic maid here for nearly two years when she was arrested in January after fleeing the physical abuse of her last employer.
She was then sent to Juru, where she claimed she was beaten and kicked for not understanding the prison officers well.
She claimed she had escaped more torture because she knew a little Malay and English, as she was useful to the depot staff for translation work.
“Others, like the Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Laotian prisoners, were badly tortured.”
Tenaganita’s Aegile Fernandez had noted that these camps are “overcrowded, have little food given and minimum medical attention and see abuses and rights violations”.
Human rights activist James Nayagam called Juru the “worst and (most) deplorable detention camp ever — not suitable for human beings”, adding that he had made reports of this to the government.