Malaysia: ”We appreciate ICRC's involvement in prisons"
Kausalya Devi, Head of Parole & Community Services, was the Malaysian Prisons Department representative at the November 2012 regional seminar on correctional management, held in Manila, Philippines. The first meeting of its kind, the ICRC-facilitated seminar brought together prison managers from nine Asia-Pacific countries. The main focus: overcrowding in prisons.
The seminar, held on 20 and 21 November, provided a forum for exchange of ideas and best practices in places of detention and provided a platform for authorities to identify possible solutions to their current problems. Kausalya joined prison managers from Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand
“This was my first time at an ICRC-organised seminar,” said Kausalya. “It has been an opportunity for us to share information on problems faced and to gain insight from others on how similar problems are dealt with, especially as we’re discussing overcrowding.”
The ICRC has a long history in the Asia-Pacific of working to address humanitarian problems in places of detention. Through its work, adapted to many different settings, and working with the authorities of different countries, it has developed unique expertise in this field.
Speaking on the objectives of the seminar, Kausalya said: “This was relevant for the Parole Department in that various countries also implement parole and basically follow the same module, rules and regulations.” She added that there were some differences in the various systems and through the seminar prison managers were able to identify possible ways of incorporating related elements into their respective systems.
She went on to say that the seminar was timely as Malaysian authorities are on the verge of implementing the prisoner transfer programme, so foreign prisoners who are eligible for parole can also be paroled in their own country. She explained: “For example, if Malaysia knows the Philippines have a parole system that will help us to implement parole release and we can work alongside countries already implementing parole or a similar system.”
In Malaysia, the ICRC has been engaged in dialogue with detaining authorities since 2009 on issues related to detained people and other vulnerable groups in the country.
The ICRC has a constructive working relationship with the Prisons Department, the Immigration Department and the Department of Depot Management of the Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as the Federal Special Task Force in Sabah. The organization regularly visits people held in Prisons and Immigration Detention Centres throughout Peninsular Malaysia as well as those held in Temporary Detention Centres managed by the Federal Special Task Force in Sabah.
Kausalya said the ICRC’s regular visits and its recommendations gave the authorities additional insight which helped them to enhance facilities. She welcomed ICRC’s involvement with her department and looked forward to working together in the future.