Suhakam also to examine Juru torture claim

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Source: The Malay Mail Online

Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) — NST FIle pic

Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) — NST FIle pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― Reports of alleged torture and killings at the Immigration detention centre in Juru, Penang will be investigated by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said today.

However, he stressed that he was “not pointing fingers” at any parties over the claims of abuse against female detainees at the centre, which allegedly caused the deaths of some inmates.

“We will investigate because that is under our mandate,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the Civil Society Conference and National Security here today.

The Cambodia Daily Monday quoted a Cambodian woman recently detained at the centre as alleging abuse and claiming that at least  seven other detainees from Cambodia and Vietnam were beaten to death there.

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Home Ministry to probe claimed killings, torture at Penang detention camp
Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― The Home Ministry has promised to investigate allegations of fatal torture at the Juru detention centre in Penang, after two Cambodian women who were held there claimed that officials abused them and beat other inmates to death.

“We will investigate whether or not this is true, or just mere rumours.

“We have not received any reports of this happening,” Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also told Malay Mail Onlinethat authorities will contact the Cambodian embassy here for further details on the allegation.

The claims of fatal abuse reportedly surfaced after Cambodian labour rights group Central sent home two Cambodian women who had worked in Malaysia as maids before they were detained in the detention centre.

One claimed that she witnessed a total of seven women die ― five Cambodians and two Vietnamese ― and that she saw the other deaths when she was asked to go along as a translator when the four were brought to a local hospital.

This Cambodian woman was sent back to Cambodia in June, along with another Cambodian woman that told Central of the “same” alleged abuse in the Juru detention centre. The second woman had also fled her abusive employer before landing at the centre.

The names of both women were not disclosed for safety reasons.

The Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry has since refuted the claims of the two women, and that only two out of 33 Cambodians remained at the detention depot.

According to The Cambodia Daily, one of the two would be going home soon and that the other individual, Saing Phlat, died of an unspecified “illness” on June 23.

Former commissioner on the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) James Nayagam said he had previously reported on the conditions of the Juru depot, which he described as unfit for humans and the worst and most deplorable detention camp in Malaysia.

Rights group Tenaganita’s Aegile Fernandez said local detention centres are where “migrant workers, refugees, stateless persons and migrants waiting to be deported” end up at, noting: “They are overcrowded, have little food given and minimum medical attention and of course abuses and rights violations.”

Cambodia had in 2011 banned the sending of its nationals to work as maids in Malaysia after claims of alleged abuse by Malaysian employers and recruitment agents.

In June this year, Cambodia offered to once again send domestic maids to Malaysia, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak then saying that Malaysia had accepted the offer.

 

EAIC: No reports of alleged abuse at Juru detention camp
Source: The Malay Mail Online

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said 28 complaints were referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), 52 were referred to disciplinary authorities, 40 were referred to PDRM and MACC disciplinary authorities while 350 complaints had full investigations conducted. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam  — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― An oversight body on local enforcement agencies said that were no complaints lodged on alleged abuse at the Immigration detention camp in Juru, Penang where allegedly fatal abuse occurred.

Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said the commission was “aware” of recent allegations of physical abuse and torture at the detention centre, but confirmed no such complaint had reached it.

“EAIC has not received any complaints regarding any incidents of misconduct or abuse by Immigration officers in the Juru Detention Centre, Penang,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email response last night.

Yaacob also said that a police report and a report to the Coroner’s Court has to be made in accordance with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code “if there have been cases of sudden death in ‘custody’ including at the detention centers”, but said there was no such cases according to Penang’s official data.

“Based on statistics received by EAIC from the Penang Chief Police and Deputy Chief Minister of Penang (Special Committee on Deaths in Custody) in 2015, there were no incidents of death in custody and no reports of sudden death have been made as required under the law,” he said.

The EAIC confirmed that it had not conducted surprise visits or inspections on the Juru detention centre in the past, but said it had visited three other immigration detention centres late last year.

“Commissioners and senior officials from EAIC have made a surprise visit (spot checks) to the Machap Umboo Immigration Depot (joint-visit with Suhakam), Semenyih Immigration Depot and Langkap Immigration Depot,” Yaacob said, referring to visits on October 5, November 18, November 21 last year respectively.

The surprise visits, which were conducted in accordance to Section 4(1)(h) of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Act 2009, were aimed at studying the “physical condition of a detention centre and also the compliance of the related laws and SOP” pertaining to the running of the centre by the Immigration Department, he said.

Under the section, the function of the commission is to make site visits to the premises of an enforcement agency, including visiting police stations and lockups in accordance with the procedures under any written law and to also make any necessary related recommendations.

“The visits and inspections have not found any ill-treatment or the use of physical violence or torture on detainees,” he said.

He said the EAIC found the Immigration Department’s operations and administration was in compliance with the relevant standard operating procedures, with the overall situation “satisfactory” with a need for improvements in depot logistics and depot safety.

“The visits’ findings and recommendations had been forwarded to the DG of the Immigration Department of Malaysia and Ministry of Home Affairs in order to improve the management and facilities at the detention centres,” he said.

“EAIC will continue to conduct surprise visits to the detention centers and lock-ups and the National Anti-Drug Agency’s PUSPEN in order to focus on issues relating to the management of the residents, SOP compliance and also on the facilities provided or available at these centres,” he added, referring to the Narcotic Addiction Rehabilitation Centre by its Malay acronym.

Malay Mail Online had contacted the EAIC for a response to The Cambodia Daily’sMonday report that two Cambodian women had claimed to have witnessed physical abuse of the Juru detention centre’s detainees, with one of them alleging that several had died due to the purported “torture”.

The duo, whose names have been withheld for their safety, were reportedly brought back home by Cambodian rights group Centre for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central) from Malaysia where they had worked for allegedly abusive employers and ended up at the Juru detention centre.

Yesterday, national news agency Bernama reported Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali as saying that his department had carried out a preliminary investigation and found the claims to be “untrue”.

 

Suhakam, EAIC told to probe alleged torture at Penang detention centre
Source: The Malay Mail Online

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu urges the government to swiftly carry out impartial probes on the alleged torture which she said may have caused the deaths of detainees. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu urges the government to swiftly carry out impartial probes on the alleged torture which she said may have caused the deaths of detainees. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― Both government watchdogs on human rights and enforcement agencies should probe allegations of torture at the Juru immigration detention centre in Penang, Amnesty International Malaysia said.

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu also urged the Malaysian government to swiftly carry out impartial probes on the alleged torture which she said may have caused the deaths of detainees.

“These are serious allegations and the authorities must commence investigations urgently, especially when this is not the first time allegations of torture and deaths in detention have been made,” she said in a statement yesterday.

“AI Malaysia calls upon Suhakam and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission to conduct investigations into the accusations of torture and ill-treatment at the Juru detention centre,” she added, referring to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the enforcement agencies’ oversight body EAIC.

Shamini was weighing in on The Cambodia Daily’s report this Monday, where a Cambodian woman formerly detained at the Juru facility claimed she had been assaulted by the centre’s officials and had witnessed the deaths of seven female fellow detainees from Cambodia and Vietnam, including three who were allegedly “badly tortured” before their deaths.

“Torture can never be justified. It is cruel and targeted violence towards another person and does not belong in civilised society. Allowing torture to prevail indicates political failure to prevent this crime from persisting,” Shamini said.

Noting the repeated criticism that Malaysia’s detention centres, including immigration depots, prisons and police lock-ups, fall short of basic standards, Shamini said Putrajaya needs to urgently ensure that the centres meet the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

The UN standard provides for the basic standards for prisoners’ living conditions, personal hygiene, food and medical services apart from other basic rights, AI Malaysia said.

She also noted that at least 17 countries had in 2013 urged Malaysia to make an international agreement against torture effectively valid here by implementing it into local laws, policies and practices.

The call was made at Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review, a UN Human Rights Council mechanism where UN member states’ human rights records are reviewed by other countries and given recommendations to act on to improve the human rights situation there.

“AI Malaysia renews our call to the Malaysian government to ratify the UN CAT at its earliest convenience. Ratification of this convention would mean that safeguards to prevent incidences of torture and ill-treatment would be introduced. There is no better time than now. Torture must stop,” she said, referring to the UN Convention Against Torture.

Local human rights group Suaram similarly called for a probe into the alleged torture at the Juru detention centre.

“Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) strongly condemns the act perpetrated by the depot staff as reported by detainees from the Juru Detention Camp. Investigation into the matter must be conducted with no further delays by all relevant enforcement agencies. Those who has committed these vile and heinous act must be brought to justice immediately!” the group’s executive director Sevan Doraisamy said in a statement yesterday.

Noting that the “deplorable” living conditions at immigration detention camps nationwide have been a long-standing concern, he claimed that the government’s response to calls for proactive remedies have however been “slow and opaque”.

He also said the reported accounts from Cambodia regarding the alleged violence and deaths at the Juru detention centre “marks a new low for human rights in Malaysia.”

“While we can describe the appalling living conditions in detention camps throughout Malaysia as a gross human rights violation, the existence of torture and physical violence by depot staff and the scale of which it occurs elevates the issue from human rights violations to the realm of crime against humanity,” he said.