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S'porean seeks RM2.67m from M'sian Immigration for unlawful detention

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A Singaporean has sued Malaysia’s Immigration Department, seeking RM2.67 million in compensation over what he claimed as unlawful arrest and inhuman treatment in his 37-day detention in October 2018, reported Malay Mail.

Puis Gilbert Louis, 68, claimed that the treatment he received during his detention amounted to "torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment”.

In the statement of claim filed on May 28, he said this had breached international conventions and Articles 5 and 7(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 7(1) states that no one shall be punished for actions that were not punishable by law when it was taken, and no one shall suffer greater punishment for an offence than prescribed by the laws existing then.

Louis, who entered Malaysia with a visa that was valid until Nov 7, 2018, was arrested during a raid at his house in Johor Bahru by immigration officers on Oct 9, 2018.

He claimed that he was with a female friend from the Philippines who possessed a valid visa, along with three individuals invited by the friend.

Louis said he was not told about the reason for his arrest, but suggested it could have been related to the alleged illegal harbouring of the trio, who were allegedly illegal immigrants.

Louis was taken to the Setia Tropika immigration office where he was kept in a crowded cell with 100 other detainees and transferred to the Pekan Nanas immigration camp the next morning.

For the next 36 days until Nov 14, 2018, Louis stayed in the detention camp cell, which he claimed was meant for 50 people, but housed 130.

Louis said he contracted diseases due to the poor and unhygienic detention conditions and lost substantial weight. He said he could only seek medical treatment after release.

The Singaporean claimed he had not been able to receive proper medication despite informing immigration officials that he was under medication for his heart condition.

Louis' lawyer, Arun Kasi, said no lawyer was allowed to visit his client during detention. Arun visited Louis as a friend and was allowed to speak with him for 20 minutes.

The detainee alleged that such an arrangement had hampered his opportunity in seeking access to justice when a commissioner of oaths was denied a meeting with him.

“The conditions of detention transgressed all basic standards of detaining humans, and was without regard to any minimum standards of humanity and inflicted cruelty against humanity,” said Louis.

His lawyer filed a habeas corpus at the high court on Nov 1, 2018 and he was released on Nov 14, on the eve of the hearing date.

Louis claimed his arrest was unlawful and without valid reason as no investigation was carried out for any offence nor any charge pressed against him.

He said he was not presented before a magistrate, and this itself was against Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, which stipulated that a non-Malaysian cannot be detained beyond 14 days without being brought before a magistrate.

The director-general of Immigration Department and the Malaysian government were named in the lawsuit filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Louis is seeking RM840,000 in aggravated damages over his distress suffered during his arrest, and RM1.83 million in exemplary damages.

He is also seeking a declaration that he was subjected to torture and treatment.

The news portal has attempted to get a response from the Immigration Department. 

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