The Malaysian authorities must immediately investigate claims that detainees were tortured to death at the Juru immigration detention centre, Amnesty International Malaysia said.
This is after a detainee who was detained there told The Cambodia Daily they saw other detainees beaten to death in the camp in Penang.
"These are serious allegations and the authorities must commence investigations urgently, especially when this is not the first time allegations of torture and deaths in detention have been made,” AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.
The Cambodian detainee claimed there were seven deaths in the camp when she was there.
She said three of those who died – two Cambodians and a Vietnamese – were before that repeatedly kicked and punched.
The Cambodian embassy in Kuala Lumpur is investigating the matter, The Cambodia Daily said.
Malaysiakini has contacted the Cambodian embassy and the Immigration Department for comment.
“Torture can never be justified. It is cruel and targeted violence towards another person and does not belong in civilised society.
"Allowing torture to prevail indicates political failure to prevent this crime from persisting,” Shamini said.
She also urged authorities to look into the Juru detention centre conditions, as well as lock-up and prison conditions.
The conditions have for years not been up to UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisons, she said.
She noted that this is not the first disclosure of torture at the Juru camp.
'Torture must stop'
Last year, human rights group Suaram said 14 individuals detained there under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) were tortured or ill-treated.
As such, agencies like the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission should also probe the matter, Shamini said.
She also urged Malaysia to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture so safeguards can be put in place to ensure it does not happen again.
"Torture must stop,” she said.
Meanwhile, Suaram strongly condemns the act allegedly perpetrated by the depot staff as reported by detainees from the Juru Detention Camp, agreeing with AI that investigation into the matter must be expedited and those responsible brought to justice.
The deplorable living conditions plaguing immigration detention camps throughout Malaysia has always been a point of concern for civil societies, notes Suaram, the large numbers of transients in the country making the situation worse.
"Despite the repeated calls by civil societies for proactive actions to be taken to remedy the situation, the government’s response to the concerns has been slow and opaque," said Suaram in a statement.
The NGO said the accounts by the two Cambodian maids who shared their experience "marks a new low for human rights in Malaysia".
"While we can describe the appalling living conditions in detention camps throughout Malaysia as a gross human rights violation, the existence of torture and physical violence by depot staff and the scale of which it occurs elevates the issue from human rights violations to the realm of crime against humanity," it said.