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Immigration ordeal for two Lankan boys

Yes, they may have falsely tried to obtain Malaysian passports. But does that offence call for two young Sri Lankan boys to be detained in an Immigration depot for more than two weeks or brought to court in handcuffs like common criminals?

That is what the Bar Council is asking after one of their human rights committee members, Renuka T. Balasubramaniam, noticed the plight of the youths at the Pekan Nenas Immigration Court in Johor recently.

"The boys, about 13 years were seated next to a woman. All three were handcuffed. The children were reluctant to say much but the woman, a Malaysian, explained that she was detained while attempting to pass them off as her own children to obtain Malaysian passports for them.

"The children are Sri Lankan nationals," she said.

The boys were only able to say their families had paid an agent for them to leave Sri Lanka to travel to France, where they were supposed to join their uncles.

However, they were passed from stranger to stranger, the last being the woman detained with them.

"They only met her the day before their visit to the Johor Baru Immigration office. The agent's plan was thwarted when the children were detained together with the woman, who was charged."

The boys, though, were not charged with her.

Balasubramaniam said she had learned a deportation order had been issued against the children as they were not in possession of their passports. "However, the children would be held until they completed their testimony against the agent. I was allowed to interview them and found they had not been permitted to call their parents since their arrest on October 3."

Balasubramaniam said she then obtained permission from one of the Immigration officers to call the boys' families. "It was only then that they emerged from their emotional paralysis. They wept with fear and relief as they recounted their ordeal to their families."

New Strait Times, Malaysia.

 

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