Malaysia urged to end child detention, adopt alternatives for refugee welfare

In the Dewan Rakyat, the debate on the 2022 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) brought forward concerns regarding child welfare and the empowerment of children’s rights. Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman urged the government to put an end to the detention of refugee children and families by implementing initiatives such as the Alternative to Detention (ATD) pilot programme, which provides temporary shelter for unaccompanied and separated children under detention.

Sulaiman argued that detaining children at immigration detention depots is harmful to their mental and physical health and is also 90% more expensive than alternative care programmes that provide protection to refugee children in Malaysia. He called on the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and the Home Ministry to implement the ATD programme and review its scope and criteria to include other resolutions besides repatriation.

Datuk Seri Madius Tangau highlighted the issue of unregistered children due to marriages among the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, which follow customary laws. He pointed out that children without birth certificates continue to be denied citizenship, even though DNA tests can confirm their biological relationships with their parents or close relatives. Tangau suggested that the home minister use his prerogative to amend the rules to facilitate the citizenship process for these children.

Abd Ghani Ahmad stressed the importance of Suhakam’s recommendations for empowering the National Council for Children. He suggested increasing the number of children as members of the council to facilitate the channelling of issues related to children to the authorities. The sitting continues tomorrow.

World News

Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

Related Articles