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Immigration DG denies detainees' claims of 'stale food, cramped cells'

Published:  |  Modified:

Immigration Department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud has denied claims from Filipino detainees that they were held in horrific conditions at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre.

"The quality of food at the depot was alleged to be only fit for animal consumption. However, for 2019, the department allocated RM80 million to feed detainees in 14 depots nationwide, with the average cost per person being RM12.

"Detainees are also given four meals a day prepared by an appointed caterer, who is under strict conditions to adhere to the nutritional standards set by the Health Ministry.

"If the food quality is bad, there would have been many food poisoning cases," Khairul Dzaimee was quoted as saying by The Star yesterday. 

The women detained in Bukit Jalil had told advocacy group Migrante International that they had spent weeks in fear and torment.

The four children with them reportedly suffered from exhaustion, and the families claimed that almost all of their belongings were seized by wardens and Immigration Department officers during their ordeal.

A detainee also said they were fed with “stale and burnt food good for swine,” and subjected to random inspections, sometimes five minutes apart.

'Allegations untrue'

Khairul Dzaimee, who was visiting the centre, said that the allegations were untrue.

"When they were detained, they came here with a small bag, and all of their personal belongings were handed to them when they left the depot to be deported," he said.

"The muster is done for the purpose of headcount. The officers must use a strong voice because they have to line up the detainees and count them. It cannot be done if the officers give their orders in a soft tone."

Khairul Dzaimee also said the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre was child-friendly. and that it had a nursery and playing space for children. 

He added that mothers with young children and pregnant women were also given special beds to make them comfortable.

“Each depot has an assistant medical officer placed by the Health Ministry to give early treatment, follow-up treatment and to monitor the health of each detainee," he said, adding that no formal complaint on the matter had been lodged.

On July 2, local NGO Tenaganita had highlighted the detention of two undocumented Filipino toddlers under the age of two along with their mothers.

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