The allegedly harrowing experience of five Chinese nationals who spent months in an immigration detention centre violated basic human dignity, said Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.
She said while prisons and detention centres were meant to restrict freedom of movement, it was not meant to be a place of torture and abuse.
“No detained individual, regardless of nationality or background, should be subject to such harrowing conditions,” she told Malaysiakini.
She was responding to reports by the news portal detailing the experience of a group of Chinese nationals, who sought to escape exploitative working conditions in Indonesia, and entered Malaysia without documents in an effort to return to China.
The former detainees – who are back in China – said unsanitary conditions led to them suffering from skin diseases such as eczema and pustules.
They described other detainees as suffering from skin ulcers and boils all over their bodies, including their private parts.
The five also detailed alleged corruption and exploitation, in which phone calls and goods – like soap and palatable meals – could be obtained at exorbitant prices through an immigration officer.
Nurul Izzah said the unsanitary conditions and abuse of power detailed were unacceptable.
“Such conditions are violations of basic human dignity and are at odds with the Nelson Mandela Rules – which are the basic standards prisons should adhere to to ensure people in prisons are treated with dignity and respect.
“In cases like this, I always hold onto the following quote by Mandela, ‘A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones’,” she said.
The Nelson Mandela Rules are the popular name of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – in honour of the South African leader who spent 27 years in prison for opposing the country’s apartheid system.
It is a set of 122 rules that give guidance on all aspects of prison management, from prohibiting torture to ensuring healthcare and that all prison staff are properly trained. – Malaysiakini