Moving children out of immigration depot aligns with ‘Madani’ vision.
By Farah Anuar, Research and Advocacy Analyst at Bait Al Amanah
We applaud the government’s decision to move the children detained at the Lenggeng immigration depot out of the centre.
This is long overdue, and we are heartened to see the government taking concrete action to protect the well-being of innocent children who may have otherwise faced serious harm in such facilities.
The decision to relocate child refugees into more suitable environments reflects the government’s commitment to take proactive steps in fulfilling its obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was ratified in 1995.
It also aligns with the spirit of Rahmah (mercy) embedded in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s vision for Malaysia Madani, and several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3 on good health and well-being, and SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institution.
We believe that this decision is noteworthy as it acknowledges the suffering that children endure in immigration detention and is definitely a proactive step to prioritise the physical and psychological development of children.
Across the world, children who are detained in such facilities are often exposed to unsafe and unsanitary conditions which are detrimental to their well-being.
Detention can be traumatising for children as they struggle to understand the reason they are being punished.
Even a brief detention period can damage a child’s growth and development, as well as exacerbate the trauma they may have suffered in their country.
Working together with NGOs and placing unaccompanied children in community-based care is indeed a smart and humane move to protect the health and safety of some of the most vulnerable members in Malaysia.
While the decision is made in the children’s best interest, they may be distressed about being separated from their families.
Compassion can go a long way to support the children throughout the process of release and community placement.
A concrete framework and mechanism are needed to nurture the children’s growth at the new centre.
To encourage accountability and transparency, we call on the government to provide frequent updates on the progress of relocating the children.
We fully support the government’s decision to end child detention and believe that this decision sends a powerful message about the government’s commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of vulnerable groups, especially children.
We also look forward to a more positive development, and we are willing to contribute all of our might to ensure that all children are able to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment where their rights are respected and protected.
*This article was published in Free Malaysia Today on 22 February 2023