We’ve to protect our country, Ismail tells Amnesty on roundup of illegals

Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob says if illegals are released without action being taken, it may encourage more of them to enter the country without documents.

PUTRAJAYA: Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob today told human rights body, Amnesty International that the government has a duty to protect the country from illegals.

This follows increasing criticism of raids by the Immigration Department on Friday and today in Kuala Lumpur to haul up hundreds of migrants without proper documents.

Ismail said Covid-19 tests were carried out three times on the foreign workers staying in enhanced movement control order (EMCO) areas near Jalan Masjid India to ensure there was no virus transmission among them.

He further said the EMCO at these locations near Jalan Masjid India will end soon.

“When it ends, where do they want to go? To rented homes or stay there?

“What we did (arresting the illegals) was according to our country’s laws.

“Amnesty International, too, needs to respect our laws.

“As a sovereign nation, we have powers to protect our country and people,” he said during a press conference here.

“Amnesty International, thank you for your views, but the decision is based on our rights and laws.”

Ismail said if illegals were released without action being taken, it may encourage more of them to enter the country without documents.

Ismail said Putrajaya had announced recently that it will strengthen the borders to stop foreigners from entering the country through “rat routes” (“jalan tikus”).

He said the Immigration Department carried out checks according to the country’s laws and had further opened 11 more prisons at police academies in view of the crowded conditions at prisons.

Immigration depots also need to observe social distancing, he said.

On April 30, Amnesty International had said the EMCO was meant to slow the spread of Covid-19 — not act as a tool to round up undocumented migrants.

“This is an outrageous decision on the part of the authorities as placing people in detention exposes them to the increased risk of contracting the virus,” it had said in its website amnesty.my.

“Immigration detention centres in Malaysia are well known for their poor conditions.

“At a time of a global pandemic, placing undocumented migrants in overcrowded and filthy detention centres and so-called special prisons will only accelerate the spread of Covid-19.”

Yesterday, Ismail confirmed that the Immigration Department carried out checks on 3,352 immigrants and detained 586 during an operation to crack down on undocumented migrants in Kuala Lumpur.

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