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Joint Statement - 23/5/2009
(Updated-31/5/2009) – 126 Organisations/Groups)
DEATH OF 2 BURMESE INDICATIVE OF STATE OF
DENIAL OF HEALTHCARE IS A VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO LIFE
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
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.
For and on behalf of the 126 organizations/groups listed below:-
Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc,
Action Network for Migrants (ANM),
All Women's Action Society (AWAM),
Alternative ASEAN Network on
Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Link (APWSL),
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB-HK)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja
Bar Council Human Rights
Bar Council's Legal Aid
Building and Wood Workers International,
Canadian Friends of
CDS (Community Development Services),
Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers -
Center for Migrant Advocacy,
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC),
Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS),
Chin Human Rights Organization
Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLGCSC)
Commission For Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM -
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS),
Development Action for Women Network (DAWN),
Ethnic Nationalities Council
Federation of Trade Unions -
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
Filipino Migrant Workers'
Forum for Democracy in
Foundation for Education and Development (Formerly, Grassroots HRE (
HAKAM - National Human Rights
Health Equity Initiatives,
H.O.M.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics),
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and New
Human Rights Foundation of Monland
INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Institute for National and Democratic Studies (
International Migrant Foundation-Bangladesh
Kachin Women's Association
Kayan National Development Foundation (KNDF)
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human rights Organisation (KKKHRO),
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW),
LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid),
Living Water Cenrter (
MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Migrant CARE, Perhimpunan
Migrant Forum in
Migrants Rights International
MIGRANTE - UAE
National Democratic Party for Human Rights(NDPHR)(exile),SEA Regional Office
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)],
National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI),
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
Network for Democracy and Development,
Network of Action for Migrants in
New Zealand Burma Support Group
NY Committee for Human Rights in the
OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program),
Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee (OMCC)
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)
Peoples Service Organization (PSO),
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangot (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS),
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe - The
Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF),
Shan Refugee Organization
Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
Shwe Gas Movement
The Foundation for the Health and Knowledge of Ethnic Labour (MAP)
The Justice, Peace & Solidarity in
The Micah Mandate
Transient Workers Count Too,
United Filipinos in
WARBE Development Foundation -
Women's Aid Organisation (WAO),
Women's League of
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)
Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association (YCOWA),