Saifuddin Nasution denied claims that more than 1,400 children were detained

ALOR SETAR: Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has denied claims by Human Rights Watch that there are more than 1,400 children detained in 20 immigration detention depots across the country.

Saifuddin also insisted that he knew the exact number of children in each depot with some of them being transferred to Baitul Mahabbah for better care.

He also questioned the credibility of the source cited by the non governmental organization (NGO).

What are their sources? Where is this alleged incident? Where is this incident being reported?

“They (The Human Rights Watch) can’t just (make demands), we have 19 immigration depots and I know exactly the number of children in each of these depots,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after the Kedah Village Development and Security Committee (JPKKP) Appointment Ceremony in Anak Bukit, here.

Saifuddin explained that the exact location of the immigration depot involved in the allegation needs to be revealed for appropriate action to be taken.

“They need to state which immigration depot, either in Semenyih or KLIA. Please be fair and give details so we can get accurate information,” he said.

He was commenting on a media report on Wednesday that quoted The Human Rights Watch as claiming that a total of 1,467 children had been locked up in 20 immigration detention centers across the country as of last September.

According to the NGO, children at the depots face abuse, including denial of medical treatment, inadequate food and poor conditions.

The NGO also claimed that two thirds of the children detained were unaccompanied or separated from their families and were sometimes sent back to their countries of origin alone.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin said, there was no congestion at the immigration depot.

“Currently there are 19 depots with 3,000 occupants. Where is the congestion? There is none,” he said.

He added that foreigners detained at the immigration depot undergo document verification and those with valid documents are released.

Currently, there are many raids, but after analysis, we found that about 80 percent of the detainees were well documented and only about 20 percent were illegal and they were detained.

“If their documents are valid, we release them,” he added.

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