KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 – “The immigration detention centre is not a place for children,” said prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in his Budget 2024 speech. “We do not need to refer to an international convention to be aware of this, we know it deep down in our hearts.”
As such, he said the government has pioneered the Baitul Mahabbah programme under the Department of Immigration Malaysia to provide temporary placement for detained children.
“In 2024, the government will expand this programme to three more temporary placement centres, one each in Sarawak, Sabah, and Semenanjung through an allocation of RM10 million,” he said.
On World Refugee Day last June 20, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the End Child Detention Network (ECDN) urged the Malaysian government to take immediate action towards ending the detention of children in immigration facilities and implementing effective Alternatives to Detention (ATD).
They pointed out that as of May 15, 2023, 11,068 people, including 969 refugee children, are held in immigration detention in Malaysia. These children have fled violence, conflict, and persecution in their home countries, seeking safety and protection in Malaysia.