KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) yesterday said it was disturbed by more than 600 deaths at immigration detention centres and prisons over the last two years, and called for immediate reform.
In its 2016 annual report, the commission said there were more than 100 deaths in immigration detention centres and 521 deaths in prisons in 2015 and 2016. Twelve people died in police lock-ups in 2015.
Suhakam said deaths mostly stemmed from diseases in all prisons and detention centres, where the government should look to improve conditions and healthcare.
“There is little interest in the human rights of detainees,” said chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail.
“This attitude is reflected in government budgetary priorities and the resources made available for the running and upkeep of all places of detention.”
Suhakam documents reviewed by Reuters showed detainees died from lung infections, heart-related conditions and the bacterial disease leptospirosis. No cause was attributed for 50 deaths.
Last week, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Reuters his ministry had hit a budget brick wall in efforts to improve conditions in immigration detention centres.
Malaysia’s 13 detention centres had a total of 86,795 detainees during various periods in 2016, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission says.
Two of the detention centres Suhakam visited last year were in dilapidated condition, the agency said in its report. It said the Immigration Department last week informed it of “major reforms.” – Reuters