Detention of children: Who is right and who is not?

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Photograph: Tenaganita Facebook page

As long as we allow employers to keep profiteering from undocumented workers, we will continue to be saddled with numerous issues, writes JD Lovrenciear.

As long as we allow employers to keep profiteering from undocumented workers, we will continue to be saddled with numerous issues, writes JD Lovrenciear.

In the past, civil society or human rights bodies exposed the deplorable and dehumanising conditions of detention centres. Now, they have again raised alarm bells about children being detained together with other adults in the same space. (The toddlers were reunited with their mothers and returned home to the Philippines on 3 July.)

The authorities, for their part, rebutted the accusations, asserting that undocumented detainees are housed and cared for nicely.

Who is right and who is lying? It is about time that justice prevailed with the true conditions revealed to the public.

However, while the debate and arguments rage on like how it has in past decades, we need to realise that the real culprits who are the creators of this problem of undocumented migrants, raids, detention centres and deportation delays are the citizens here.

As long as we allow employers to keep profiteering from the undocumented workers, this problem of raiding, detaining, housing, feeding and deporting undocumented workers and even children will continue to haunt us. It is like a chicken-and-egg debate.

The country is bleeding from the outflow of billions of ringgit. The authorities have to spend much of taxpayers’ money to raid, detain and feed these thousands of undocumented migrants, some of them underage. Such funds could have been used to provide scholarships for our poorer children and to serve senior citizens with better healthcare.

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Meanwhile NGOs end up having to raise the alarm to ensure detainees are not abused and are instead given respectful care consistent with human rights demands. And the reputation of the nation takes a beating in the eyes of the global community.

If we can tighten the nuts and bolts and ensure employers harbouring and profiteering from undocumented workers are severely dealt with, we would be better off.

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