The detention of hundreds of children at immigration centres is highly unacceptable
6 November 2020
We refer to the written reply in the parliament by the Home Ministry dated 3.11.2020 that confirmed that there are 756 children currently detained at immigration detention centres as of 26.10.2020.
Equally alarming is that 326 of those children were stated to be of Myanmar nationality and are being detained without guardians. Whilst not explicitly stated, it could reasonably be presumed that most, if not all, of these children are Rohingyas, meaning that the authorities have inexplicably detained children refugees and asylum seekers.
Malaysia, being a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), must at all time bear in mind that Article 3 clearly imposes Malaysia with the duty to ensure that the best of interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.
Therefore, it is unfathomable as to why the authorities deem it fit and proper to detain hundreds of migrant and refugee children, most of whom are detained without guardians, in overcrowded detention centres during a worldwide health pandemic. The government is wilfully putting these vulnerable children at increased risk of Covid-19 infection, breaching its obligation under the CRC.
The continued detention of these children in immigration detention centres is inhumane. These children must not be treated as criminals as they could not have entered the country on their own volition and are entirely victims of circumstance.
We therefore strongly urge that the government immediately release these children from detention into the care of their parents, guardian or the appropriate welfare authorities.
We further reiterate our earlier calls for the authorities to halt any and all action against migrants while Covid-19 remains a viable threat and release all refugees and asylum seekers currently in detention.
Lawyers for Liberty