Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is shocked by the justification provided by the Inspector General of Police, Abdul Hamid Bador for the large-scale raid at an enhanced movement control order (MCO) location. The raid was described as a measure to contain migrant workers who may be potentially infected with the Covid-19 virus from leaving the identified areas and risk the further spread of the virus.
The nature of large-scale raid and treatment of detainees during the raid itself was a far cry from the repeated instruction by the government for social distancing. Photo of long human ‘chain’ with minimal protection has been captured by various parties during the raid. As opposed to containing the spread of the virus, the government has knowingly risked a new outbreak for a bizarre purpose.
Furthermore, by conducting a raid, the government has knowingly set off a sense of dread and fear among migrant communities, especially those who do not have the appropriate pass to enter the country. This fear will drive them away from the authorities and make it even more so difficult to trace and identify potentially infected individuals.
As these individuals who are described as illegal migrant by the government has been detained, which detention centre will be utilized? What would be the terms of their detention? What is the action plan if they were prosecuted and found guilty of violating immigration laws? These questions are critical to ensure the fundamental rights of detainees are protected, and public health would not be put at unnecessary risk.
These actions are also inconsistent with the recommendations made by the United Nations in its guidance around the pandemic. Immigration detention centres are high-risk locations for the spread of communicable infections, a sudden increase of detainees from enhanced MCO would needlessly expose other detainees and immigration officers in detention centres.
While we acknowledge that ensuring migrants are in the country are complying with our immigration requirements is a legitimate aim of the government, SUARAM would like to remind the government that enforcement of these provisions should not be at the expenses of public health.