EAIC says advised Immigration Dept to put CCTVs at detention depots

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said there were no reports of sudden custodial deaths in Penang, according to official data received last year from the Penang police and Penang government. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa
EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said there were no reports of sudden custodial deaths in Penang, according to official data received last year from the Penang police and Penang government. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 ― The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) said it has previously told the Immigration Department to place CCTV cameras at its detention centres, amid allegations of fatal abuse at the Juru depot in Penang.

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said this recommendation was made following the oversight body's surprise visits to three of the Immigration Department's detention depots ― Machap Umboo, Semenyih, Langkap ― in late 2015.

“We have also made recommendations relating to the safety of the lock-ups/detention centres and the surrounding areas, where we advised the Immigration Department to install the CCTV at these areas to ensure effective monitoring and the investigation can be carried out in the event of unwanted incidents such as death of the detainee, riot and criminal offences,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email response yesterday.

He told Malay Mail Online that the commission was “aware” of recent allegations of physical abuse at the Immigration Department's Juru detention centre in Penang, but confirmed that it had not received any such complaints.

He had also said there were no reports of sudden custodial deaths in Penang, according to official data received last year from the Penang police and Penang government.

He was responding to The Cambodia Daily's Monday report that two Cambodian women had claimed to have witnessed physical abuse of detainees at the Juru detention centre. One of the duo, who was arrested in January, alleged that three women had died at the centre due to the purported “torture”, while another four female detainees died at a hospital.

In the EAIC's annual report for 2015, the oversight body said it had found the detention depots' conditions and basic facilities to be unsatisfactory due to the overcrowding by illegal immigrants held there.

In the same report, the EAIC said it had recommended that the number of guards and officials at the detention depots be increased to ensure a “reasonable” ratio against the number of detainees, as well as the upgrading of the buildings and control tower to allow for better management of safety control.

Other recommendations for improvement included doing health screenings on all illegal immigrants that enter the detention centres, as well as the immunisation of depot staff from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy.

The EAIC had also urged for a higher meal allocation to allow for better food quality and a review of meal supply contracts for those who breach the agreement's terms, as well as better welfare and comfort for depot guards through the provision of two sets of uniforms and modified quarters.

Yaacob told Malay Mail Online yesterday that the EAIC did not find any ill-treatment or torture of the depots' detainees during its inspections, adding that the findings and recommendations for improved management and facilities have already been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Immigration Department's director-general.

Yesterday, national news agency Bernama reported Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali as saying that his department had carried out a preliminary investigation and found the claims of abuse at Juru to be “untrue”.