An Indonesian rights group has slammed Malaysia for causing the deaths of 149 Indonesian nationals who were allegedly treated inhumanely while held at detention facilities in Tawau, Sabah over the past 18 months.
Between January and March of 2022, there were supposedly 18 deaths.
The accusations came following a report by the Indonesian non-governmental organization (NGO) Koalisi Buruh Migran Berdaulat titled Seperti di Neraka: Kondisi Pusat Tahanan Imigrasi di Sabah, Malaysia (Like in Hell: The Conditions of Immigration Detainment Centers in Sabah, Malaysia).
In the report, it is said that the team interviewed around 100 former Indonesian detainees who’d been part of a group of 2,191 that were returned and repatriated back to their home country back in 2021, with 57 of them under the age of five.
“Except in Sandakan, the immigration detention centres elsewhere often exceeded their capacities, and each block was packed to the brim, dirty, and void of sunlight.”
“Unpleasant smells filled several blocks while the toilets were extremely dirty. There were no beds provided. Each detainee slept on the hard floor with only cardboards as beds.” the report reads.
The report also detailed how almost every single detention centre in Sabah lacked basic healthcare equipment, facilities, and personnel, while medication sold to the detainees was priced way above typical market prices.
What govt has to say?
Commenting on the accusation, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said deaths are unpredictable and can occur to anyone anywhere and at any time.
“It would be great if I had the ability to know when someone is about to die.”
“If someone is detained and sent to our detention centres, that is because they committed a crime. When that happens, they are subject to existing laws.”
“If someone is detained and suddenly dies, whose fault is that? This is something unfortunate. Anyone can die anywhere and at any time,” Hamzah was quoted as saying by The Star.
Malaysians were angered by his remarks and has since taken to social media to condemn the minister for pushing away his responsibilities.
“Stating the obvious is his strength. We knew death comes anywhere, anytime to anyone. What’s needed here is improvement of detention centre condition, treatment given to detainees, accountability towards detention deaths and transparency in reporting which he conveniently avoided.” a netizen commented.
“Irresponsible, unprofessional, no empathy, arrogant.” another netizen said.
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