PETALING JAYA: A group of NGOs has slammed the government for violating children’s rights after children as young as eight years old were detained during an immigration raid in Cheras last week.
According to Kuala Lumpur immigration department director Syamsul Bahrin Mohshin, police detained a total of 425 undocumented migrants between the ages of eight and 54 at Cheria Heights apartments on Aug 4.
“This is an infringement of the Asean Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration because it violates their civil liberties and impacts their mental well-being,” the NGOs said in a statement issued today.
The group – which includes Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Beyond Borders Malaysia, Tenaganita, Aliran and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) – called for the release of the children immediately and asked that all the detainees be allowed access to legal representation.
“Malaysia has also failed to uphold its pledge to implement policies and legislation that would protect the rights of the most vulnerable communities,” the NGOs said.
The group pointed out that home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had pledged in February to hand over children detained in immigration detention centres to NGOs.
They said not a single child detained last Friday has been released from custody, let alone handed over to the relevant NGOs. The NGOs also urged the government to arrest the labour agents and employers involved in hiring these undocumented migrants.
“The lack of documents and work visas are administrative offences, which are also due to unscrupulous labour agents and employers,” the statement read.
Furthermore, the NGOs condemned raids in housing areas because they said such events traumatise innocent people and are a clear violation of human rights.