a probe into the deaths of 150 foreigners in malaysian detention last year is being pushed by the government
Over 100,000 Rohingya refugees and millions of undocumented migrants reside in Malaysia, which routinely detains foreigners without valid permits.
Activists and former detainees interviewed by Reuters report that the country’s detention centers are crowded and unhygienic.
Malaysia’s home minister, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, said seven children and 25 women died in detention last year in a written reply to a question in parliament.
Last July, Malaysia reported 17,703 foreigners in its detention facilities. He did not specify the cause of death or the number of migrants held in detention.
The fact that so many foreigners, including children, die in immigration custody is a damning indictment of Malaysia’s failure to treat them as human beings with rights, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The detention of undocumented foreigners for long periods, while refugees and asylum seekers who do not wish to return home, is indefinite.
Refugees are not recognized in Malaysia, and UNHCR-administered protection has few rights.
Asylum seekers have been denied access to detention centers since August 2019, hampering efforts to release and resettle them.
As a result of restricted access and a lack of independent monitoring, Amnesty International urged a transparent investigation into the deaths.
According to the report, the government should act openly and urgently.
The home ministry and immigration department, which run the detention centers, did not respond to requests for comment.
The treatment of migrants in Malaysia has increasingly come under scrutiny.
During the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, authorities arrested thousands of undocumented foreigners to prevent its spread. Asylum seekers were deported back to Myanmar.
The issue and concern of asylum needs to be addressed and human rights groups need to come forward for the same.