Sarah (MAC Policy Officer) and I went to Sungai Buloh prison today. We went up to the sick bay where the TB and HIV patients were segregated from the other patients by a thick glass wall. I tried to talk to a HIV positive prisoner but the glass was so thick I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. There were several Burmese prisoners in there for overstaying - one had a colostomy bag and would likely be transferred later to cramped immigration detention.
|Dato' Narander Singh, Director of Sungai Buloh prison, with our|
Health, Safety, Public Order photo report on Swiss Drug
Policy. The Report is available at this link:
Exiting the sick bay area to where the psychiatric patients were held, we were greeted by the hollow wails of a man dressed in a green prison uniform (mid-length sentence). He sat while a guard and his friend comforted him, and he cried and cried, saying that he wished things were different and wondered out loud why he kept going in and out of prison. We earlier were told that psychiatrists only visited the prison an average of once a month.
We moved on to the psychiatric cells, which were sparse, and had cement blocks for seats. They were painted an obnoxious pink, which I told the guard would probably induce mental illness in anyone, including me. He then hurriedly said that they’ve consulted someone to paint them in more conducive colours. Beige, or taupe, I don’t know.
Earlier we'd been told that out of 4,027 individuals being held at the prison current at 21 January 2015, 2 individuals were triply diagnosed with HIV, TB and Hepatitis C, and 12 individuals were living with Hepatitis C alone. Because of the fact that 2,333 individuals out of the 4,027 prisoners were held under the Dangerous Drugs Act, we are concerned that this is an underdiagnosis.
The Director of the prison (Dato' Narander Singh) was very keen on improving health outcomes, which is a start for better conditions, I think. So we’ll keep working, and hopefully achieve something.