Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) notes the concerning report alleging that some detainees at Sungai Buloh prison are showing symptoms of Covid-19.
The right to health during this pandemic is critical as it deals with the fundamental rights of detainees and any outbreak of Covid-19 in an overcrowded prison system like ours would be disastrous for detainees and the nation. An outbreak within prison walls would expose countless prison staff and undermine the national effort to combat Covid-19.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also issued its call for governments to reduce the number of people in detention by exploring ways to release those who are vulnerable such as older detainees, sick detainees as well as low-risk offenders. For those who are not suited for release, the government has the duty to ensure the right to health of detainees is provided for.
Our neighbouring country such as Indonesia has implemented an expedited parole system for low-risk offenders and those vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus. Malaysia must not lag behind on this matter and leave our overcrowded prisons to their fate. Immediate intervention must be made to minimise and mitigate any risk of a Covid-19 outbreak within the prison and other detention facilities.
SUARAM calls on the Prison Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs to engage with key stakeholders on immediate action to tackle the issue of Covid-19 in detention and explore options to reduce the risk of further Covid-19 outbreak within detention centres.