Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 more join 113 in global concern about healthcare in Malaysia's detention places - 2 deaths Leptospirosis

Joint Statement - 23/5/2009 (Re-issue-25/ 5/2009)
* The Joint Statement was also handed over to SUHAKAM on 25/5/2009, and received by HR Commissioner Khoo Kay Kim



We, the undersigned, are alarmed to hear that Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, have died in the Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis. This is disease that is usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. The fact, that 2 persons are dead and others have been infected by this disease, again highlights the state of hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare at Malaysian Detention Centres.

We recall that it was reported in the media in December 2008, that "About 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying. He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.” [Star, 18/12/2008, ‘1,300 foreign detainees died due to neglect’]. Now, Sa La Hin and Thang Hoih Ping may just be the latest additions to that list of detainees that died due to similar reasons.

We also recall the words of SUHAKAM in their response to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13/1/2009, that correctly stated that ‘…SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life….’

These deaths may have been avoided if medical attention was provided promptly, and we call for an independent public inquiry to determine whether there was such negligence on the part of the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a People's Volunteer Corps), and the Immigration officers, who are currently responsible for Immigration Detention Centres in Malaysia.

We do appreciate the fact that the Director General of Immigration has now decided that ‘cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases’ (Bernama, 19/5/2009, Cleanliness, Hygiene at Immigration Depot to Be Stepped Up).

We hope that this is not merely a knee-jerk response, which is temporary in nature, but a new and permanent commitment by Malaysia to improve standards and conditions of Detention Centres and other places of detention.

The current once a week visit by a medical officer to the Detention Centres is certainly inadequate. There should be, at the very least, a permanent clinic/dispensary manned by a medical assistant, with a doctor visiting detainees for several hours at least once every two days or more frequently.

New users of the Detention facility should also be determined free from easily transmittable diseases like Tuberculosis and the A(H1N1) flu before being introduced to the general population of detention places.

There should also be regular visits by the Health Officer, who shall monitor the conditions, including of the living and sleeping environment, of the Detention Centre to ensure that it meets the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The foods, and all aspects of food preparation, also need to be monitored by the Health Department especially since there is a possibility that the fault in the recent deaths could be the current caterer of food and drink.

With regard to those who have died, we are of the opinion that their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants and/or the RELA volunteers, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

We, the undersigned, call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia.

We are also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to take necessary steps to ensure that proper steps be taken to ensure that such disregard for life does not happen again.

We reiterate the call for the abolition of RELA, and restate our position that law enforcement, and management of detention places should be done by professionally trained full-time public servants, not volunteers.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 123 organizations/ groups listed below:-

Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc, Philippines

Action Network for Migrants (ANM), Thailand

All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia

Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma

Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Hong Kong

Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)

Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Link (APWSL), Korea

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB-HK)

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners ( Burma )-AAPP

Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia )

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Bar Council Human Rights Committee , Malaysia

Bar Council's Legal Aid Centre , Malaysia


Building and Wood Workers International, Asia Pacific Regional Office

Burma Campaign Australia

Burma Campaign , Malaysia

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Centre Delhi (BCD)

Burma's Nationalities Association (BNA)- Norway

Burma Partnership

Cambodian Women's Crisis Center , Cambodia

Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB)

CDS (Community Development Services), Sri Lanka

Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines

Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers - CIMW – Indonesia

Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Malaysia

Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), Malaysia

Chin Human Rights Organization

Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC) Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach ( USA )

Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The Netherlands

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM - Asia )

Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma

Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines

Empower Foundation, Thailand

Ethnic Nationalities Council

FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights

Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU)

Forum for Democracy in Burma

Foundation for Education and Development (Formerly, Grassroots HRE ( Burma )

Free Burma Coalition - Philippines (FBC-Phils)

Free Burma Campaign , South Africa

Friends of Burma , Malaysia

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)

HAKAM - National Human Rights Society , Malaysia

Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia

H.O.M.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Singapore

Hope Workers’ Center , Taiwan

HRWG - Indonesia 's NGO Coalition for International Advocacy

Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and New Immigrants Service Center , Taiwan

Human Rights Foundation of Monland

IMPARSIAL, the Indonesia Human Rights Monitor, Jakarta – Indonesia

INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development)

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

Institute for National and Democratic Studies ( INDIES )

International Migrant Foundation-Banglade sh

Kachin Women's Association Thailand

KAFIN Migrant Center, Japan

KAFIN - Saitama , Japan

Kayan National Development Foundation (KNDF)

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human rights Organisation (KKKHRO), Cambodia

Labornet Korea

Labour Resource Centre , Malaysia

Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia

LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid), Pakistan

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)

Migrant CARE, Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)


MIGRANTE Middle East

MIGRANTE International



Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI)

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)

National Democratic Party for Human Rights(NDPHR) (exile),SEA Regional Office

National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia

National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), Malaysia

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, U.S.

Network for Democracy and Development, Thailand

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

New Zealand Burma Support Group

NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program), Bangladesh

Osan Migrant Workers Center in South Korea

Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee (OMCC)

Pakistan Rural Workers Social; Welfare Organization

Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

Peoples Service Organization (PSO), Malaysia

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangot (EMPOWER)

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor

Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe - The Netherlands


Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

Raks Thai Foundation , Thailand

Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF), Malaysia

Shan Refugee Organization Malaysia (SRO)

Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)

Shwe Gas Movement

Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia

St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Tenaganita, Malaysia

The Foundation for the Health and Knowledge of Ethnic Labour (MAP)

The Justice, Peace & Solidarity in Mission Office, The Good Shepherd Sisters

The Micah Mandate

Transient Workers Count Too, Singapore

United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE- HK)

U.S. Campaign for Burma

WARBE Development Foundation - Bangladesh

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia

Women's League of Burma

Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association (YCOWA), Thailand

113 – 23/5/2009

123 - as of 25/5/2009

* For further information, please contact Charles Hector (chef@tm.net. my) or Pranom Somwong (Bee) (p_somwong@yahoo. com) at 019-2371 300

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