No problem with UNHCR visiting Immigration detention depots, says Home Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry does not take issue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) intention to visit detainees at Immigration detention centres.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he was aware of the UNHCR intention.

"This was among the matters agreed upon between the ministry and UNHCR in our previous discussions.

"It shows that there is a good relationship between us," he told reporters after visiting the General Operations Force (GOF) Central Brigade Headquarters in Cheras on Friday (Feb 16).

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain and Bukit Aman Logistics Department director Datuk Seri Sahabudin Abd Manan also attended the visit.

He said there was an ongoing effort for data sharing between Malaysia and the UNHCR.

"We will compare data. There are things we want and things that they want, and we can reciprocate," he said.

In a statement earlier this month, the UNHCR claimed it had been waiting for approval from the Immigration Department to access its detention centres since August 2019.

It claimed to have been prevented from visiting detainees, including at the depot in Bidor from which 131 detainees escaped on Feb 1.

On another matter, Saifuddin said the ministry would engage as many lawmakers as possible to show them what the police have been facing without Sections 4 and 15 of the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) 1959.

"The ministry is ready to engage stakeholders before proposing amendments to the sections in question. This shows that we are open to suggestions.

"We need more engagement on this issue, with a focus on the participation of MPs," he said.

Section 4 covered procedures for magistrates to issue remand orders on suspects requested by the police, while Section 15B curbed judges' ability to enquire as to grounds for detention.

In April 2022, the Federal Court ruled both sections to be unconstitutional, in the case of a habeas corpus appeal by a man under restricted residence for allegedly being involved in organised crime.

The apex court said the two sections violated the doctrine of separation of powers.

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