PUTRAJAYA: The Home Ministry (KDN) is currently in the final phase of reaching an agreement to share data on refugees with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate the government’s next step in managing refugees in this country more comprehensively.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (pix) said the matter was discussed in a meeting with the representative of UNHCR High Commission, Thomas Albrecht in Parliament this morning.

He said the discussion also revolved around aspects of capacity development and training so that the strengths of KDN and UNHCR can be combined to take advantage of the organisation’s experience in managing refugees around the world.

When asked about the training, Saifuddin Nasution said UNHCR has modules on human rights and also the ability to view UNHCR data in a granular manner since the organisation has developed a registration system to manage 187,000 refugees which is different from the KDN system.

“Now there is a group of our officers who are carrying out a training and capacity building programme with them (UNHCR). At the same time, we will provide cooperation that is best suited to the role and existence of UNHCR in our country and this is important to deflect accusations (mainly) from those who think that the Home Ministry does not cooperate directly with this organisation (UNHCR),“ he said in a press conference here today.

Asked whether UNHCR expressed its intention to visit the immigration depot, Saifuddin Nasution said KDN was ready to help facilitate UNHCR’s application since the organization expected there would be refugee status detainees and asylum seekers among the 13,000 detainees at the 20 immigration depots managed by KDN.

He said UNHCR could submit a list and the Home Ministry would help identify their whereabouts.

In another development, Saifuddin Nasution said Human Rights Watch (HRW) expressed its unwillingness without any reason to meet regarding the findings of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that there were abuses and deaths at the Immigration Department’s detention depot.

“Until today, HRW still expressed their unwillingness to talk with me to discuss the findings they reported in their report. I am still waiting because this kind of engagement is important in case they have information that I may have overlooked.

“So I need their cooperation and will still give them time and I am ready to examine one by one the details included in their report, such as torture (detention depot) that caused death,“ he said.

On March 8, Saifuddin Nasution was reported to have said he was ready to hold a meeting with HRW regarding the NGO’s allegation that there had been abuse and death at the immigration detention depot.

He also hoped that through the meeting later, HRW would be able to show evidence and a list of those who died due to abuse while in custody as in the report published by the NGO.

The HRW report released earlier claimed that detainees in Immigration depots were treated badly and that there were human rights violations against them. The report is based on interviews conducted with 43 individuals who are said to have been detained at immigration depots.

The report also claims children often face the same abuses as adult detainees - including denial of medical care, insufficient food and ill-treatment.

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