The Coalition of Sovereign Migrant Workers (KBMB) reported that as many as 18 Indonesian citizens died at the Tawau Immigration Detention Center, Sabah, Malaysia, from January 2021 to March 2022.
One of them is suspected of having been abused before he died, the report said.
The report also stated that the KBMB found several cases of alleged “inhumane forms of punishment” and “torture” experienced by Indonesian deportees at the Tawau Immigration Detention Center, Malaysia.
The Indonesian Consulate in Tawau said it would re-examine the cause of the death of an Indonesian citizen, which was previously reported to have occurred due to a heart attack.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta said that most of the deaths that occurred at immigration detention depots were caused by Covid and other serious illnesses.
‘Like in hell’
In a report entitled As in Hell: Conditions of the Immigration Detention Center in Sabah, Malaysia, the KBMB fact-finding team (TPF) interviewed several deportants from Indonesia.
This effort was made to find out what happened to Suardi, an Indonesian citizen, who allegedly died as a result of being mistreated in the Malaysian Immigration Detention Center in Tawau, Sabah.
They interviewed deportants, one of whom was the deceased’s brother, who was in the same detention block as Suardi.
The witnesses said that Suardi was beaten violently by officers from the Immigration Detention Center (DTI), in front of other detainees.
Suardi, with his injured body condition, was then put in solitary confinement, handcuffed. He was later pronounced dead in early January 2021.
Apart from Suardi’s case, the results of the KBMB investigation concluded that there were allegations of “inhuman punishments” to allegations of “torture” there.
“Various forms of punishment and inhumane treatment, even torture occur in immigration detention centers which are closed institutions, isolated institutions.
“Rarely people can access the reality that is happening inside, so they are indirectly protected by the closure, not many people know,” said Abu Mufakhir, a member of the KBMB TPF by telephone to BBC News Indonesia, Sunday (26/06) .
Indonesian Consul in Tawau: ‘We will investigate again…’
The Indonesian Consul in Tawau, Heni Hamidah, said that on Monday (27/06), his party would match the data with the detention depot regarding the alleged abuse that Suardi experienced before his death.
Because, in the report he got last year, the cause of Suardi’s death was a heart attack.
“We will investigate further. I don’t really know where the information from the KBMB came from, if based on the written file on us, the deceased died due to heart attack.
“We also want to check this with the depot,” Heni told BBC Indonesia News.
What is the Malaysian government’s response?
Responding to the findings of the KBMB, the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, in a written statement, said a total of 149 Indonesian detainees who died at Immigration Detention Depots throughout Sabah.
Everything, is caused by disease, from Covid-19, to serious illnesses such as organ failure and heart attacks.
This statement surprised the KBMB because the number of deaths of Indonesian citizens in DTI was actually higher than they had expected.
Heni also said that he would re-verify the DTI regarding the actual number of deaths.
Limited access, beating is not a new issue
A member of the KBMB fact-finding team, Abu Mufakhir, said that limited access to DTI made it difficult to uncover allegations of violence in it.
Because, he said, the only parties that could enter the detention depot were the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and Suhakam or Komnas HAM Malaysia.
“We were lucky because we had the opportunity to meet deportants from the first day they were deported, so we got a lot of stories about various forms of violence and human rights violations that occurred in detention, experienced by them themselves, which even caused some people to lose their family members,” he said. Ash.
Former Head of Suhakam Jerald Joseph admitted that the findings of the KBMB in Tawau DTI were not the first time he had heard of it.
“Unfortunately, if they are tortured in the depot immigrantthey have no chance of making a complaint, because the phone is expensive, no one comes to receive the information.
“And maybe they are a little scared,” said Jerald at the Launching of the Report of the Fact-Finding Team for the Coalition of Sovereign Migrant Workers, Saturday (25/06).
Jerald said deportants were also often punished with rattan canes.
He revealed that the Malaysian government thought that the caning of rattan would reduce the number of people entering Malaysia or working to Malaysia without official documents.
‘Whip rattan, punch or kick’
In TPF’s findings, rattan lashes were usually carried out in court, immediately after the judge handed down a verdict.
According to people interviewed by TPF KBMB, rattan caning was only carried out on male prisoners between the ages of 19 and 50 years.
“The pain is indescribable,” reads one excerpt from the report.
There are also other penalties, in the form of hitting or kicking, which are given to deportants when they make minor mistakes at DTI.
“The only form of punishment we found was in 2020, but then we didn’t find any more practices of spraying disinfectants directly on the bodies of prisoners.
“A variety of other forms of punishment will continue to apply until our last monitoring was carried out in June 2022,” TPF wrote in the report.
Apart from the persecution, the findings of the KBMB TPF also revealed other conditions, such as the depot being overcrowded, dirty, and without sunlight.
Then, the quality of food and water that is not suitable for consumption, until the alleged omission by the officers when the detainee was sick.
The report states: “When detainees complain of weakness and pain, officers often ask the prisoner to raise his hand to his mouth, saying “Can you still raise your hand? You don’t have to ask for medicine.”
Or asking the prisoner to stand up, if the prisoner can stand, it will be considered that his complaint does not need to be followed up with a medical examination or medication.
“When the complaint gets worse, whatever the complaint will only be given paracetamol (panadol).
“All the deportants we interviewed said that detainees would only be taken to the hospital when they were in a very serious condition, ‘Wait for death, then take them to the hospital’.”
This neglect was experienced by a deportant named Aris, according to interviews with several other deportants.
Before he died, Aris complained of pain, his body was weak, and had fainted several times. However, he did not get medical treatment.
On September 25, 2021, in the morning Aris fainted again and was taken to the hospital. Two hours later he was declared dead.
“It shows that the PTS (Temporary Detention Center called the Immigrant Detention Depot) failed to provide health services, failed to respect the right of immigration detainees to access the health services available in Sabah,” said Abu.
Jerald said that at DTI there were no doctors, only medical assistants. “There is a shortage in terms of the skills of a doctor,” said the former chairman of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.
However, the Indonesian Consul General in Kinabalu, Rafail, said there were doctors in three DTI that he monitored, namely in Menggatal, Papar, and Sandakan.
“The detention house provides doctors. So routine checkups, even if someone is sick, they just have to convey it. If the pain is severe, of course they will be taken to the hospital,” said Rafail.
Poor sanitation, triggers skin diseases
However, Rafail admits that there are other problems related to sanitation which are indeed disturbing the health of the deportants in DTI.
He himself witnessed the condition of the deportants who had many skin diseases.
“I saw it myself, it’s a skin disease problem, they have a lot of itching and so on. I conclude that maybe they are not clean when bathing, don’t use soap, and so on,” said Rafail.
Heni explained that the condition of DTI which often exceeds its capacity has made poor sanitation one of the problems experienced by the deportants.
In DTI Tawau, as of Friday (24/06) the number of deportants reached more than 2,000 people, while the DTI capacity was only 1,500.
“What I have complained about so far are the facilities, for example the cramped detention room, the toilets are always full because of the large number of prisoners, then maybe the food is also complained about. But I have conveyed this to the immigration authorities to continueupdates.
“If it’s not, we usually intervene by providing assistance, such as soap, gloves. For facilities, we can only ask them so that the detention rooms are not crowded and so on,” added Rafail.
Rafail said that his party would also communicate with the Malaysian immigration authorities to evaluate the issues that were reported by the TPF KBMB.
Meanwhile, Abu said that his party had followed up this report to Suhakam, Komnas HAM, to the United Nations, but had not yet received a response.
Also watch the video ‘Mahathir Asks Malaysia to Claim Riau Islands and Singapore!’: