KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — The government has confirmed it will execute a pilot project which could see hundreds of children moved out of immigration detention centres throughout the country.
According to Malaysiakini, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the SOPs for the project, which will involve moving children from immigration detention centres to NGO shelters, will tentatively be finalised by the end of this month.
“Children do not belong at (immigration) depots and should not be detained for immigration offences as long as there is a better alternative.
“My ministry will continue to work with the Home Ministry towards (having) no detention of children in Malaysia,” she reportedly said.
On Thursday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Putrajaya may introduce a pilot project that will provide better care for immigrant minors whose parents or guardians are locked up in detention centres.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that his ministry is in talks with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to look for an alternative to detaining the children along with their illegal immigrant parents.
This comes after news reports highlighted the case of two undocumented Filipino toddlers who were held at the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention centre recently.
There are currently 363 children under the age of 12 now being held at immigration detention centres while waiting for their immigration status to be determined.
Dr Wan Azizah said the pilot programme would involve five children being released from the immigration detention centres at each time to an NGO shelter home.
“While the children are in an NGO shelter home, efforts will be taken to either search for the child’s family or make arrangements with the related embassy for the return of the child or family to their home country,” she added.