KUALA LUMPUR: The Immigration Department has refuted allegations that detainees were placed in inhumane conditions and fed with “stale and burnt food good for swines”.
This follows such claims by former Filipino detainees whose children were also held for nearly three weeks.
Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud (pic) said further accusations that their belongings were looted by Immigration officers, who also subjected them to frequent routine inspections and cramped, dirty cells were untrue.
“The quality of food at the depot was alleged to be only fit for animal consumption.
For 2019, the department has allocated RM80mil to feed detainees in 14 depots nationwide, with the average cost per person being RM12.
“Detainees are also given four meals a day prepared by an appointed caterer, who is under strict conditions to adhere to the nutritional standards set by the Health Ministry.
“If the food quality is bad, there would have been many food poisoning cases,” said Khairul Dzaimee during a visit by media and the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) to the Bukit Jalil Immigration depot here on Monday (July 8).
On July 4, in a statement published by the global alliance of Filipino migrants overseas called Migrante International (MI), the group of former female detainees recounted their ordeal while under detention.
Among the accusations made by the women who were deported on July 3 were that nearly all their possessions were confiscated by the Immigration officers and they only managed to carry their belongings in small shoulder bags.
“When they were detained, they came here with a small bag and all of their personal belongings were handed to them when they left the depot to be deported,” said Khairul Dzaimee.
The women also alleged that they were subjected to muster call or routine inspections every five minutes from 7am to midnight and were led by barking detention wardens and spiteful immigration officers.
“The muster is done for the purpose of headcount. The officers must use a strong voice because they have to line up the detainees and count them. It cannot be done if the officers give their orders in a soft tone,” said Khairul Dzaimee
He added that the muster can be done at least five times daily.
Immigration officers were also panned by the Filipino women for allegedly not sparing the children from verbal abuse, adding that many young detainees were in need of medical attention.
Khairul Dzaimee said that the depot was a child-friendly place complete with a nursery and a playing space for children.
He also said that mothers with young children and pregnant women are also given special beds with a mattress and pillow to make them comfortable.
“Each depot has an assistant medical officer placed by the Health Ministry to give early treatment, follow-up treatment and to monitor the health of each detainee.
“For detainees that require treatment for their illness, they will be brought to the hospital or the nearest health clinic,” he said.
He also explained that the depot was equipped with water filters for detainees to get their drinking water, dismissing allegations in the statement that detainees had to buy bottled water or risk getting dehydrated.
On July 2, non-governmental organisation Tenaganita demanded in a statement that the government release two undocumented Filipino toddlers under the age of two that had been detained by the Immigration Department for three weeks.
The toddlers were among eight foreigners caught in an Immigration raid on June 14 and the children were deported on July 3 along with their mothers.
Upon arrival in Manila, they had come up with a statement through MI criticising the Immigration Department on their treatment of detainees.
Khairul Dzaimee said that the Immigration Department did not receive any formal complaints from the Philippine government and also did not intend to take action against those accusing it of a slew of abuses.
“I just want to give the real picture of what happened,” said Khairul Dzaimee.