Human rights budgeting needed for prisons, detention centres: Suhakam

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Source: The Sun Daily

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a need for human rights budgeting in the national budget to ensure that at least minimum standards of human rights protection are met.

Malaysia Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) called for this initiative from the government to provide sufficient allocation for prisons and detention centres as many are still in poor condition despite recommendations for improvement.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph, who led the team for lock-up visits and checks six months ago, said one of the common excuses given by authorities is lack of funding from the government to improve facilities and functions.

“In planning the national budget, the government must now use the framework in a human rights-based approach.

“It must include a participatory process that the community or the stakeholders involved must be a key part of the process,” he told theSun.

Joseph said budget allocations especially for lock-ups, detention or rehabilitation centres, must link to minimum standards of human rights and embedded with accountability mechanism.

The commission plans to engage the government agencies closely beginning this year on the need for human rights budgeting.

The issue came up when Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail in a statement on Feb 3, called for proper allocation for all lock-ups in the country from the national budget.

In the commission’s visit to the Ayer Molek police lockup in Johor Baru on Jan 11, it found that the condition of the lockups is still unsatisfactory.

This is despite recommendations made after its first visit on July 31 last year.

“The problem in the Ayer Molek lockup is infrastructural as it is an old facility. So both the inmates and the officers are affected.

“There are small changes to the food quality where the daily food allocation for inmates is increased from RM8 to RM9 but beyond that, we are told that they have not obtained the funds requested,” Jerald said.

Suhakam has also called on the government to comply with the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) to improve “the deplorable conditions of detention centres in Malaysia”.