Kids don’t belong in detention centres, Hannah Yeoh says as Filipino babies locked up

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh expressed disappointment with the continued detention of two Filipino babies at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh expressed disappointment with the continued detention of two Filipino babies at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh today expressed disappointment with the continued detention of two Filipino babies at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Yeoh said children should not be put in such a situation, let alone mere infants less than two years old.

“Children do not belong in detention centres,” Yeoh said in a short reply.

She added that her ministry has been called in to help secure the release of the babies by immigrants and women’s right group, Tenaganita, adding that the ministry’s team is working on the case.

Earlier today, Tenaganita alleged that the Immigration Department has continued to detain two Filipino babies not even two years old, at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre despite repeated intervention from Putrajaya.

In a statement, Tenaganita executive director Glorene Dass said that the mothers of the two babies are distraught as they have been given no access to see their children for 20 days.

She said the babies were detained during an immigration raid at Plaza Indah Apartment Kajang on the night of June 13, 2019.

She added that the children’s mothers were informed by the Immigration Department that their babies can be sent back to Philippines together with them, should they not have travel documents issued by the Philippines Embassy.

Glorene said that the investigation officer from the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Department had informed that the deportation order and other necessary documents had already been prepared and sent to Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre on June 27.

However, she lamented that as of 3pm today, officers at the detention centre claimed to have no knowledge of such a deportation order.

She urged the authorities to expedite the release of the babies to their mothers or any shelters which are equipped to care for the children, until the Immigration Department provides the necessary documents for the children’s deportation.

Malay Mail has contacted the Immigration Department’s director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud for comments, and is awaiting his reply.

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