KUALA LUMPUR: Four square meals a day, a nursery for children, beds for expectant mothers and water filters are among the facilities provided at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot for detainees.
This was shown to representatives from Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation and the press during a tour of the block holding female detainees and children under 12 yesterday.
The visit came about following allegations by a group of female former detainees, whose children were held for nearly three weeks, that they were “treated like animals” and fed with “stale and burnt food good for swine”.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud, in refuting the allegations by the women from the Philippines, also dispelled accusations about cramped, dirty cells and that their belongings were looted by Immigration officers.
“This year, the department has allocated RM80mil to feed detainees in 14 depots nationwide, with the average cost being RM12.“Detainees are 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,” said Khairul Dzaimee.
For every meal, detainees are given three pieces of fish or chicken along with servings of vegetables according to the specifications set in the contract with the caterer.
In a statement published by the global alliance of Filipino migrants overseas Migrante International (MI) on July 4, the former detainees recounted their “ordeal” while under detention.
The women, who were deported on July 3, alleged that nearly all their possessions were confiscated by Immigration officers and they only managed to carry their belongings in small shoulder bags.
However, Khairul Dzaimee said: “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.”
The women also alleged that they were subjected to a muster call or routine inspections every five minutes from 7am to 12am 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.
The Immigration officers were also panned for allegedly not sparing the children of verbal abuse, adding that many young detainees were in need of medical attention.
Khairul Dzaimee said the depot was a kid-friendly place complete with a playing area for children, with mothers of small children and pregnant women 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 who require treatment, they will be taken to the
hospital or the nearest health clinic,” he said.
He also explained that the depot had water filters for detainees to get drinking water, dismissing an allegation that they had to buy bottled water.
On July 2, Tenaganita demanded the release of two undocumented Filipino toddlers under the age of two detained for three weeks.
The toddlers were among eight foreigners caught in an immigration raid on June 14.
They were deported on July 3 along with their mothers.
Upon arrival in Manila, they criticised the Immigration Department in a statement put out by MI.
Khairul Dzaimee said the Immigration Department did not receive any formal complaint from the Philippine government and also did not intend to take action against its accusers.