Time to clean up detention centres, says Tenaganita

Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das says detainees should not be treated as criminals for administrative and immigration-related offences.

PETALING JAYA: Civil society group Tenaganita has called for a clean-up of detention centres in the country following the death in custody of a Nigerian student at the Bukit Jalil detention centre in Kuala Lumpur.

“We must give priority to really clean up our detention centres starting from the officers who are the front-liners,” Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das said.

This comes following the death on Tuesday of Nigerian student Orhions Ewansiha Thomas.

Nigerian daily PM News said that according to reports, Thomas, who was pursuing his PhD at a local university, was taken to a centre on Jalan Duta despite possessing valid documents.

It said he died while officers were verifying his papers ahead of his release.

However, in a statement today, the Immigration Department said no standard operating procedures had been breached.

It said Thomas was arrested with 19 others during a raid at the Desa Aman Puri Apartment in Kepong, Selangor, after residents complained about the presence of foreigners and their misbehaviour.

“The deceased did not give full cooperation during the operation. He tried to run when approached by the immigration officers,” it said.

The department said Thomas experienced a seizure prior to his death but denied any foul play. It said it is awaiting a report from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Glorene said detainees should not be treated as criminals at detention centres for administrative and immigration-related offences.

“We call on the home ministry and Immigration Department to carry out a thorough investigation into the death of the student.

“We must makes changes now and not wait for another death,” she told FMT.

She said there was a need to look into the conditions at detention centres and how detainees were treated.

“We speak from experience, evidence and real-life incidents. Regardless of nationalities and backgrounds, many lives have been put in danger due to the conditions at these detention or holding centres,” she said.

Yesterday, a group of Nigerian nationals vented their frustrations over the treatment of their countrymen during a small but heated protest outside their country’s high commission on Jalan Ampang.

The protesters did not make any claims of misconduct by the Immigration Department but wanted their high commission to do more for to help the estimated 30,000 Nigerians in the country.