Deported Filipinos claim they were treated like animals at detention centre

NGOs are against the detention of children at immigration detention camps. (Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Several Filipinos who were deported together with two toddlers from Malaysia are claiming that they were treated like animals at the detention centre in Bukit Jalil.

According to Filipino NGO Migrante International, “almost all their belongings were looted by wardens and immigration officers” at Bukit Jalil.

The NGO said on its website: “Holding back their tears, the mothers recounted their two-week ordeal at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre.

“Ralyn (not her real name) can never forget how ‘muster’ or routine inspections every five minutes from 7am to 12 midnight were led by barking detention wardens and spiteful immigration officers.

“Detainees were fed with ‘stale and burnt food good for swine,’ Ralyn revealed.”

Ralyn was quoted as saying: “Our rights as humans were violated! The female wardens acted as if they are not mothers themselves. They were vile and mean; they treated us like animals. All the children always got terrified when they were around.”

Migrante International said the “group of deportees” arrived at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 9.40pm on July 3. It, however, did not say exactly how many.

Tenaganita had been fighting for the toddlers to be released, saying it was against the interest of the children as well as international norms.

Tenaganita had alleged that the two toddlers were detained during an immigration raid in Kajang on June 14 and that their mothers, who had valid visas, were not at home at the time.

Their mothers were subsequently informed by immigration authorities the toddlers could be sent back to the Philippines if they had travel documents issued by the embassy, Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das had said.

Glorene had said the continued detention of the toddlers violated the Child Act 2001 and the “spirit” of the Convention On The Rights of the Child to which Malaysia is a party.

But Immigration Department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud, in denying Tenaganita’s claim that the children were held in “less than hospitable conditions”, said basic facilities were provided for children detained at the centre.

Migrante International said it had worked with Tenaganita to get the Filipino detainees back to Manila.

It said two women, Enny and Anita (not their real names), had described their cells as cramped and filthy.

It claimed they were made to lie down on the cold floor surface and nobody was allowed to use any sleeping mat. “Even scraps of cardboard, which they used to fan themselves and cover the floor, were confiscated.”

The Filipino NGO claimed immigration detainees had only one set of clothes which they had to wash and wear every other day and quoted Enny as saying: “We wore the same clothes that we had been wearing on the night we were arrested.”

Migrante International said those who had cash to spare were able to purchase “low-quality clothes” sold inside the facility.

“Even then, they still have to choose whether to conserve the little money that they had so they can buy bottled waters or risk getting dehydrated by the extreme heat and thirst.

“Non-married or single detainees are constantly in handcuffs and any detainee inside the facility seen by immigration wardens as misbehaving was dealt with severely.

“The mothers recalled how a female detainee from Kenya, who had been showing signs of psychosis, was tied to the wall with both hands and was made to stand the whole day.

“Children were not spared verbal abuse by the growling wardens and immigration officers. Many of the young detainees were in need of medical attention.”

The NGO said when asked about their future plans, the women said they might still go overseas again to find employment.

FMT has reached out to the Immigration Department for a response.

Earlier today, Khairul told Bernama that his department would give priority to cases involving foreign children effective today so that they could be sent home as quickly as possible with the cooperation of the various foreign missions.

He said 363 foreign children, aged under 12, had been detained at detention depots nationwide.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the Bukit Jalil detention centre actually provided a comfortable space for children, including bedding facilities.

“We call it a depot, but in there, we isolate them from other detainees to enable them to live comfortably.

“For instance, there are beds, a play area, among others,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.