An inspection by the Malaysian Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) and Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has found allegations that migrant workers – Cambodians among them – were killed in detention to be “false and without basis”, according to local media reports.
Representatives of EAIC, a government watchdog, and Suhakam were unreachable for comment yesterday but they are reported to have carried out a “spot-check” at the Juru detention centre, where a recently repatriated Cambodian migrant worker told NGO Central she witnessed guards beating and torturing several detainees to death. Following the inspection, an official statement was released rubbishing the Cambodian returnee’s claims.
“The allegations of detainee deaths from physical abuse as reported are false and without basis,” EAIC chairperson Yaacob Md Sam is quoted as saying in the statement, which also alleges the centre is overcrowded, structurally unsafe and has been without functioning CCTV since 2014.
However, executive director of Central Moeun Tola said yesterday that he was not convinced by the inspection’s findings.
“The Malaysian government claims there is no torture, no Cambodian maids in Juru. But it’s not transparent, the other NGOs are not allowed to investigate, so how can we believe that investigation?” Tola said, adding that more ex-detainees have come forward since the original accusation was made.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in an email yesterday that investigators should have spoken to the women alleging the abuse took place. “Only when all sides have been heard can the investigation really be said to be final and comprehensive,” Robertson said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry did not respond to requests for comment.