KUALA LUMPUR: Efforts by the government to remove children from immigration depots will have a huge impact on them after having gone through the unfriendly process of arrest and detention.
Children's Commissioner Dr Farah Nini Dusuki described the detention depot as not a conducive place for a child’s mental or physical development and the negative impact is greater for unaccompanied children.
"The younger the children, the more sensitive they are to their environment. Therefore, by taking them out and hopefully placing them in a more suitable and comfortable place, it can reduce the trauma they have gone through," she told Bernama.
She said the efforts to bring children out of immigration detention depots are also in line with Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ie the principle of putting the best interest of the child as the main consideration.
"Why these children are there, which of course if the offence is a violation of immigration law, it is not their fault they are in such a situation," she added.
Farah Nini also recommended that the Home Ministry collaborate with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to obtain the infrastructure or place that can be used for the purpose.
She also suggested that Home Ministry also collaborate with the Health Ministry to examine and treat the children who have been in detention for a long time, and the Education Ministry to provide the necessary education.
On Friday (April 14), Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was reported as saying that the Home Ministry will table a paper to the Cabinet regarding the government's efforts to shift children from Immigration detention depots.
Meanwhile, the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisation (MAPIM), Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, said the government's move to bring children out of immigration detention depots is appropriate and in line with international law.
He said access to health and education for children is one of the main issues that need to be given attention and that an alternative method should be devised for the detention of foreign child immigrants in detention depots.
"The detention of children on individual grounds or related to the migrant status of their parents, is not at all regulated under the principle of exclusion and does not favour the interests of detained children. Therefore, it is contrary to international human rights law," he said.
Therefore, he said, MAPIM proposed that the immigration detention rules on children and other migrants be immediately abolished and alternative measures should be drawn up to protect their dignity, humanity, health and well-being.
Child activist, Dr Hartini Zainudin said the action of shifting children from immigration detention depots would help the children to have a better quality of life, emotionally and spiritually.
"I am so excited and thrilled the Home Ministry is working on releasing the children in detention and that we have a minister who understands how important it is to protect and care for children. That they do not belong in detention," she added.
Dr Hartini, who runs Yayasan Chow Kit, a 24-hour crisis centre for at-risk children and teenagers in the Chow Kit area, said that as an NGO, she looked forward to pitching in and supporting the ministry in its effort.
For the record, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and other stakeholders have previously recommended Alternatives to Detention (ATD) for children detained at immigration depots since 2014 and an ATD pilot project was planned for 2020, but had to be postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19. - Bernama