NGO: Immigration Dept detaining undocumented Filipino babies for nearly three weeks

Tenaganita executive director Glorene Dass said that the lack of communication and coordination between the different units in the Immigration Department, either intentionally or because of internal procedures, is distressing.— Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tenaganita executive director Glorene Dass said that the lack of communication and coordination between the different units in the Immigration Department, either intentionally or because of internal procedures, is distressing.— Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Immigrant and women’s rights group Tenaganita today alleged that the Immigration Department continues 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.

“Tenaganita is dismayed that the Immigration Department is continuing to hold two Filipino babies below the age of two at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre, since June 14, 2019 despite the interventions of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines and the office of Hannah Yeoh, from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

“The babies were detained during an immigration raid at Plaza Indah Apartment Kajang on the night of June 13 2019. At that time, the babies who are undocumented, were in the care of a relative; the mothers who have valid visas were not at home,” Glorene said.

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 Tenaganita has also been reliably informed that the embassy is ready to provide the travel documents once the deportation papers for the babies have been received from the Malaysian Immigration Department.

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

However, Glorene lamented that as of 3pm today, officers at detention centre claim to have no knowledge of such deportation order. 

“Despite repeated inquiries by the mothers and the attorney appointed by the embassy, the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre has maintained that they have no knowledge of the deportation order, and are still awaiting instructions from Putrajaya.

“dThis lack of communication and coordination between the different units in the Immigration Department, either intentionally or because of internal procedures, is distressing.

“Tenaganita would like to point out that holding children and babies at detention centres violates the spirit of the Convention On The Rights of the Child (Article 37b and c) to which Malaysia is a party. The Convention requires that the best interests of the child are given paramount importance.

“The continued detention of the babies has also violated the Child Act 2001 that recognises the right to protection and assistance in all situation to children regardless of race, colour, gender, language and religion,” Glorene added.

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 is contacting the Immigration Department and Yeoh’s office to verify the detention, and for their response.

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