KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Civil society groups today urged Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to consult with the related stakeholders after he said it was premature to assume the condition of detainees in Kimanis was due to treatment at the Immigration depot facility.
In a statement today, the group said that Saifuddin must avoid repeating his predecessor Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin’s alleged hostile approach when handling refugees and migrant workers.
"We urge Saifuddin Nasution to instead speak to representatives from civil society organizations and community-based organisations as we have a better understanding of the ground reality that concerns refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers.
"Hamzah was incredibly hostile towards refugees and migrant workers as opposed to looking at progressive policies that would allow them to plug the holes in the labour market shortage and contribute effectively to the Malaysian society and ensure their rights and interests are protected,” the group said.
The group also urged Saifuddin to look into laws and policies for the management of foreign workers that would cover every stage of the migration cycle, from worker recruitment to work placement, employment, repatriation and reintegration.
"Refugees and asylum seekers need to make a living and as such we hope Saifuddin would look at their right to work under the existing legal framework, the IMM13 under Immigration Act,” it added.
The group also encouraged the Home Ministry to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to visit immigration detention centers where refugees and migrants are held following raids, especially after the recent call for help by the detainees in Kimanis.
On Thursday, it was reported that a clip of an emaciated man allegedly a detainee of Kimanis immigration depot appealed to Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor and state immigration director Datuk Sitti Saleha Habib Yusoff to release them.
"While the new government’s pledge to ensure no one is marginalised or discriminated upon in Malaysia is heartwarming, we would also like it to include issues concerning the protection of the fundamental human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers,” it said.
The statement represented nine organisations namely; Beyond Borders Malaysia, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, North South Initiative, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, Tenaganita, Pemuda Sosialis, Refugee Emergency Fund and James Bawi Thang Bik.
Yesterday, Saifuddin urged people to not jump to conclusions after the video clip and several pictures emerged of the emaciated men, allegedly detainees at the Kimanis Immigration depot in Sabah, appealing for help.
He said it was not fair to immediately blame the authorities before investigating the matter.