It doesn’t matter whether the young Nigerian who died in immigration custody was a bona fide student or not, or even whether he had entered the country illegally.
The question is: Why did he die in immigration custody and who is responsible for his death?
Custodial deaths have expanded from police stations and prisons to immigration detention centres now.
We are not sure where else custodial deaths will take place given the near impunity apparently enjoyed by those in charge of law and order.
Even if the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is established, it might be just confined to the police force.
What about checking human rights abuses in other government agencies?
In the past, hundreds of Malaysians have died in police lockups and in prisons. I am not sure whether those responsible for these deaths have been held responsible and prosecuted.
I have remarked recently that custodial deaths among Malaysians have invariably involved those from the lower socio-economic class.
Custodial deaths are a curse on the poor and underprivileged in Malaysia.
Defenceless individuals without family and societal support often become victims to those in the law enforcement agencies.
The thinking that those who cause custodial deaths can get away from being prosecuted seems to be the main reason why deaths are difficult to prevent.
It is sad that a young Nigerian student who came to study in the country was detained and subsequently died in custody a few days later.
Are the authorities going to sweep this particular crime under the carpet like other deaths in the past?
Is the dead student a victim of hate crime among certain immigration personnel?
Why is there so much racism and ill-feelings towards Africans and others who might be different from us culturally?
It is a shame our Immigration Department is not taking responsibility for those who have been detained.
P Ramasamy is deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.