Out of the total figures, 258 deaths involved men, 34 women and 6 children
by FAYYADH JAFFAR / pic BERNAMA
THERE were 298 deaths involving detainees in the immigration depots in Sabah from 2020 to July 12, 2022, the Home Ministry said.
Out of the total figures, 258 deaths involved men, 34 women and six children.
Over half or 154 deaths are recorded in depots in Sabah.
The number of illegal immigrants detained at all immigration depots nationwide as of July 12, 2022, was 17,703 comprising 12,722 men, 3,217 women, 996 boys and 768 girls, with the largest number of Filipino detainees at 7,022 people (39.67%), followed by Indonesians at 4,625 people (26.13%) and Myanmar nationals at 1,390 people (7.85%).
Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said the government was committed to ensuring the safety of all citizens, including illegal immigrants.
He said this in response to Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng’s query on the total number of illegal immigrants detained at the immigration depots in Sabah.
Lim also sought clarification whether the revelation of the Sovereign Migrant Labour Coalition in its report “Like Hell: Condition of Immigration Detention Centres in Sabah”.
Hamzah said the figures were inaccurate.
“The report by the Sovereign Migrant Labour Coalition is inaccurate following the statistical error of the deaths of the detainees referred to.
“The Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, however, made a media statement on June 28, 2022, to explain the actual statistics after the Sabah Immigration Department conducted a cross-check with the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu and the Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia in Tawau,” he added.
The report by the Sovereign Migrant Labour Coalition previously revealed that 149 Indonesian citizens died at five centres between January 2016 and December 2017.
Hamzah further said that in ensuring the safety of the citizens, including illegal immigrants, and the smooth flow of goods and services, the ministry through the Sabah Immigration Department took consistent actions such as transferring detainees from high-capacity depots to less capacity depots, intensifying efforts to deport illegal immigrants to their country of origin and holding regular consultations with the Philippine and Indonesian Embassies to expedite the repatriation of detainees to their countries of origin.
On June 28, Hamzah has previously downplayed these claims, saying that “If we detain someone who commits a crime and we put them in a depot, and then they die, who should we blame?”
“Sometimes people die even while walking…They don’t even have to be in a depot. So, this should not be an issue,” he said in a press conference.