KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Affairs Ministry has been given control of all detention centres in the country to ensure smooth handling of illegal immigrants detained by Rela.
Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said a recent Cabinet decision allowed his ministry to manage all the detention centres, which would mean that certain difficult situations could be avoided.
“Previously, the Prisons Department under the Internal Security Ministry was in charge and this made it a little difficult for us,” he said.
Radzi gave the example of Rela raids conducted late at night and ending in the wee hours of the morning.
“What happens when we bring all the illegal immigrants to the detention centre at 6am? They will tell us to go back or to wait because they open at 9am.
“Now that we are in charge, this can be avoided and all other aspects of deporting illegals will also be made easier,” he said.
Radzi said the delay in sending back illegals was because officials of embassies only visited detention centres once a week to verify if the immigrants were genuine citizens of their country.
“This creates crowding in detention centres. But with courts being set up at the centres now we can then send them back at a much quicker pace as the courts can summon the embassy officials” he said.
Radzi said Rela operations would continue and the Deputy Prime Minister had recently promised 3,800 more enforcement officers.
“We currently have 1,200 officers throughout the country which is insufficient. Hopefully with the increase, we can operate more effectively.”
He added that contrary to public perception, some 270,000 foreign workers return voluntarily to their respective countries every year.
“Some may stay, either because they have started a family or overstayed but it is important to note that many do go back,” he said.