Malaysia Rights Panel Disturbed

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Published on 4 Apr 2017, 11:28
Reuters has reported that Malaysia's national human rights panel on Tuesday said it was disturbed by more than 600 deaths at immigration detention centers and prisons over the last two years. The panel called for immediate reform. In its 2016 annual report, the panel, known by its Malay acronym, Suhakam, said there were more than 100 deaths in immigration detention centers and 521 deaths in prisons in 2015 and 2016. Twelve people died in police lock-ups in 2015. Last week, citing documents from Suhakam, Reuters reported that 118 foreigners, including undocumented workers, refugees and asylum seekers, had died at detention centers in the last two years. More than half the dead were from Myanmar.
Suhakam said deaths mostly stemmed from diseases in all prisons and detention centers, where the government should look to improve conditions and healthcare.
"There is little interest in the human rights of detainees," said Chairman Razali Ismail. "This attitude is reflected in government budgetary priorities and the resources made available for the running and upkeep of all places of detention."
Particularly in immigration detention centers, people spent long periods unable to move freely or sleep comfortably in overcrowded cells, he said, where conditions sometimes deteriorated to become "inhumane".
The government did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Suhakam's report, published on Tuesday.
Former detainees, government agencies and rights groups have told Reuters of grim living conditions in detention camps that are overcrowded and unhygienic.
Some said they received insufficient food, water or healthcare, and many developed skin and lung infections, or contagious diseases. All those interviewed also alleged they were beaten by camp guards or saw others being beaten.
Suhakam documents reviewed by Reuters showed detainees died from lung infections, heart-related conditions and the bacterial disease leptospirosis. No cause was attributed for 50 deaths.
Last week, deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Reuters his ministry had hit a budget brick wall in efforts to improve conditions in immigration detention centers.
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