End the immigration detention of kids

A coalition of human rights’ group specialising on child issues has urged the Malaysian government to stop the arrest and detention of children by the immigration authorities.
In a press statement today, the group, Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM) also expressed their concern over the large-scale immigration crackdowns which are set to take place next month as announced by the Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi earlier this week.
“Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Hussein Haniff is demanding the release of Palestinian children in Israel’s detention centres and we commend his efforts.

Nevertheless, in Malaysia, children are continually arrested and locked up in the immigration detention centers.”
“Thus we are urging the Malaysian government to stop the detention of children in Malaysia,” said CRCM.
On Monday, Ahmad Zahid said that a major crackdown on illegal immigrants will be launched by the police, immigration department and Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia (Rela) after Hari Raya. This came after the government viewed the issue of illegal immigrants as a factor to the increase of crime rate, drugs and prostitution.
The group is gravely concerned on the negative impact it may have on the children by detaining them at such centers. The appalling conditions the children have to endure may cause long-term psychological damage and trauma.
“Hussein Haniff himself underscored the long term psychological damage caused when the Palestinian children are held in Israeli detention camps,”
The group then noted that children in Malaysia’s immigration detention centres are also facing similar challenges and difficulties. The centres are not conducive for asylum seeking children and refugees to live in.
“Their release can take several months to process and until then they have to live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with inadequate food, clean water and medical care.”
“Although the Immigration Regulations of 2003 provide that a child under the age of 12 may remain with any of his or her parent; there are no provisions for the protection of unaccompanied children and adolescents,” CRCM said.
The group also slammed Malaysian government for failing in its international obligations to respect the rights of all children as it has acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Malaysian government fails to respect the rights of all children regardless of nationality or status for equal opportunities to health care, protection from harm, and access to education as prescribed in the UN Convention,”
CRCM calls on the Malaysian government to urgently implement effective alternatives to the immigration detention of children as mentioned by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2012; that the detention of a child or their parent or guardian based solely on their immigration status is never in the best of interest of the child.
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