PETALING JAYA: Two undocumented Filipino toddlers under the age of two are being held at the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention centre since June 14 despite intervention from the Philippine Embassy and the Malaysian government, claimed a non-governmental organisation.
Calling for their immediate release, Tenaganita executive director Glorene A. Das (pic) said the toddlers were detained during an immigration raid at the Plaza Indah apartment in Kajang on the night of June 14, where they were being watched over by a relative as their mothers were not home, said Glorene.
The mothers, who possess valid visas, have since been informed by the Immigration Department that the children could be sent back to the Philippines together with them if they have travel documents issued by their embassy, said Glorene.
“The babies have been deprived of the care of their mothers and held in less than hospitable conditions for the last 20 days with no end in sight to their plight,” she said in a statement Tuesday (July 2).
The toddlers have also continued to be detained despite interventions by the Philippine Embassy and the office of the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, said Glorene.
“Tenaganita has been reliably informed that the embassy is ready to provide the travel documents once the deportation papers for the babies have been received from the Immigration Department.
“According to the investigation officer from the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Department, the deportation order and other necessary documents have been prepared and sent to the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention centre on June 27.
“Despite repeated inquiries by the mothers and the attorney appointed by the embassy, up until 3pm on July 2, the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention centre has maintained that they have no knowledge of the deportation order and are still awaiting instructions from Putrajaya,” she said.
The lack of communication and coordination between the different units in the Immigration Department was distressing, said Glorene, who also said that the detention of children violated child rights.
“Tenaganita would like to point out that holding children and babies at detention centres violates the spirit of the Convention On The Rights of the Child (Article 37 b,c) to which Malaysia is a party,” she said, adding that the continued detention of the toddlers also violated the Child Act 2001.
She urged for the matter to be treated with urgency and for the children to be handed over to the custody of their mothers of any shelters better equipped to care for the toddlers until the Immigration Department was able to provide the deportation documents.
“No babies and toddlers should be in any detention or holding centres. We demand for their immediate release,” she said.