Immigration officers tasked with preventing child trafficking

KOTA KINABALU: Immigration officials have the authority to verify whether a child under the age of 18 is travelling with their parents or legal guardians, says state immigration chief Sitti Saleha Habib Yussof.

She said immigration officials at entry and exit points such as Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) are entrusted with the responsibility to, among others, prevent the trafficking of children.

“We must make sure that no children are brought in and out of this state without their parent’s consent. We are also responsible for making sure that no stateless or children with false birth certificates leave or enter the state, and that those travelling with these children are their legal guardians,” she said.

Her statement comes after a passenger recently shared her experience of being asked to produce her son’s birth certificate and that immigration officials at the KKIA checkpoint initially refused to acknowledge his Mykid card.

The passenger, in a Facebook post, said the incident happened when she and her son were going through the checkpoint at the airport together. Her husband had gone through the counter earlier without them.

She claimed to have produced her son’s MyKid but the official still did not allow them to pass the immigration checkpoint. She was then referred to another officer for clarification before they finally let them pass through.

The woman said the immigration official claimed there had been cases of children being brought in or out of Sabah without consent.

Sitti Saleha said immigration officials stationed at the KKIA must verify the status and identity of every passenger who goes in and out of the state, adding that immigration officials also work with the other security agencies at airports to ensure the safety of all passengers.

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