Find a more sensible and practical way, say rights groups

PETALING JAYA: Find a more sensible and practical way to vaccinate illegal migrants to prevent the nation from failing to meet its 80% herd immunity target, caution rights groups.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Jerald Joseph said plans for mass arrests of illegal immigrants would contradict efforts to develop herd immunity.

“The government seems to have forgotten the lesson it learned during the movement control order last year when the authorities decided to detain illegals.

“The move resulted in a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and clusters.

“My concern is that the present move would pose a danger to security personnel and Malaysians in general, ” he said when contacted yesterday.

Rather than adopt a mass detention approach, he suggested a more sensible and practical approach which was proposed by coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin.

“Khairy previously said that authorities would work with NGOs and individuals who deal with illegal migrants in an effort to get them to come forward for vaccination.

“This move is more sensible and practical in reaching out to the illegals, ” he said.

Jerald added that the Malaysian authorities could also adopt a similar approach used by their British counterparts and NGOs in London’s Chinatown recently to get many undocumented migrants vaccinated using mobile vaccination units.

He cautioned that the current mass arrest approach would render the 80% herd immunity target elusive for the nation.

Child activist and Yayasan Chow Kit co-founder Datuk Dr Hartini Zainudin said authorities should not be detaining undocumented migrants, particularly women and children.

She highlighted video recordings circulating on social media showing children as young as four years old being detained.

“The videos are appalling. They show migrants running, being detained, handcuffed, shackled, herded, made to squat, hosed down with Dettol, marched into immigration vans with no physical distancing and then into detention centres, ” she said.

She asked that such actions, which she described as “cruel and inhumane”, be stopped immediately.

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