Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Illegals not ill treated at detention centres: Suhakam


Based on the letter detailing the complaints about Filipino detainees being allegedly abused while held at the temporary detention centres in the State, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) found that the conditions described were not of the detention centres. Suhakam Vice Chairman, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun said the letter from their Filipino counterpart gave details of the complaints such as deportees being detained in crowded cells, tasked to make handicrafts and forced to perform chores for the Malaysian Police. “They also claimed that men inside the prison cells were maltreated, but what sort of maltreatment was not specified, and at the slightest or no provocation at all the Malaysian Police punished them by whipping their butts with rotan,” he said when met at his office yesterday. Sipaun said none of these alleged incidents could have occurred at any of the temporary detention centres as firstly, there are no cells in the centres and secondly, the centres are administered by the Federal Special Task Force (FSTF) and not the Police. Sipaun said Suhakam carried out an investigation after their counterparts in the Philippines, the Philippines Human Rights Commission, wrote to them highlighting claims of bad treatment by Malaysian authorities of their nationals while in detention in Sabah. “I met with the detainees and there were no complaints. They are happy at least in the detention centres,” he said, adding that Suhakam was informed that the detainees were not brought to the detention centres directly after they were arrested by the authorities. He said that it could be as long as two weeks from the time of arrest before they were sent to the detention centres. “We don’t know what happen during that time and whether there are violation of human rights.” Sipaun disclosed that based on the letter from their Philippine counterpart, the deportees were detained in crowded detention cells, and that based on the report they (counterpart) received, women detainees are forced to undress by women jail guards before entering the detention cells. But this was not the case, he said, adding that the letter also alleged that detainees were forced to perform chores for Malaysian policemen. This, he said, was not accurate because detention centres are administered by the Federal Task Force and not the Police. The detainees also claimed that they were tasked to make handicrafts and products which are sold outside without receiving the profit derived from the sales. “In the detention centres, there are no such facilities for making handicrafts. This is just a place to detain them temporarily pending deportation and I was told the longest they are detained is about two weeks, so how could they be asked to do handicrafts?” he said. Sipaun said he has visited the temporary detention centres in Sandakan, Tawau and Menggatal and found all to be basically the same. “So it looks like their target is really the Police because most of these complaints as far as the detention centres were concerned, as far as Jam able to assess, were unfounded. “They are well treated as long as they are in the detention centres so it could be from the time they were arrested to the time they reach the detention centres. Is difficult even for us to know the real situation because this is not happening in one specific area where we can just go there and see for ourselves,” he said. Manila had recently raised the issue of alleged abuse following the start of the latest Ops Bersepadu operations to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah since Aug 7. Officials here said that there has been no complaints from Indonesian illegal immigrants mainly because Indonesia had consular offices in both Kota Kinabalu and Tawau to assist their citizens.