More than 100 foreigners have died from various diseases and unknown causes in the past two years in Malaysia’s immigration detention centres, according to documents reviewed by the Reuters news agency.
The reported toll, which has not been previously disclosed, is based on Malaysian immigration department data provided to the National Human Rights Commission, which is known by its Malay acronym Suhakam.
Reuters reported on Thursday that documents from the government-funded commission detailed 83 deaths in 2015 and at least 35 in 2016 up to December 20.
More than half of the 118 dead were reportedly from Myanmar, the source for tens of thousands of refugees coming to Malaysia, including Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution by Myanmar’s authorities and its majority Buddhist population.
It is unclear whether the death rate is higher than in neighbouring countries. Government officials in Indonesia and Thailand told Reuters they do not disclose such numbers.
The rate is higher than in countries such as the United States, which in the last financial year recorded 10 deaths in its much larger immigration detention system.