Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Are the police exempt from the law?

Are the police exempt from the law?


Hardcore criminals are treated harshly as they should be according to the law. The full force of the law lands on them mercilessly. This is not only to punish them as they deserve to be but also to serve as a deterrent to would be criminals.
dharmendran
But why then does the same law fail to act against hardcore police criminals who cause death in custody? Why doesn’t the law land on them as determinedly as it does when it concerns citizens?

This selective action definitely demoralises the public and causes loss of confidence in the police. Malaysians ask with justification whether the police are a law unto themselves? Why does the long arm of the law fail to haul them up and punish them without any reservation when they are guilty of heinous crimes?

The mounting deaths under troubling circumstances are a source of worry to all law-respecting Malaysians, who are devastated that Indian Malaysian detainees, according to their perception, are dying like flies in the lockups. This perception is not without justification when facts are viewed objectively. Within 11 days three Indians have died in police custody under circumstances requiring no less than a Royal Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of these worrying deaths.

The death of N Dharmendran on 21 May, according to an autopsy report, suggests a wilful murder of a helpless, handcuffed detainee. The torture of this man was atrocious and demeaning. Every inch of his body had been inflicted with beatings resulting in his horrible death. His thighs and ears had been stapled revealing extreme cruelty and inhuman conduct on the part of the police.

It is unbelievable that in the inner sanctum of the police premises this abominable act of unlawful behaviour could be perpetrated with impunity! The howling and screaming of pain must surely have been heard by others on duty and those under detention unless this torture was carried out in a specially constructed sound-proof chamber of torture. Is that the reason why no one intervened to stop this mad act of violence against a human being?

In a society that respects human rights and the rule of law these criminal policemen would have been arrested and promptly charged. But in this particular case the policemen who were involved in causing Dharmendran’s death were given desk jobs instead of being suspended immediately!

For the Home Minister even to suggest that if they were to be suspended from duty it would demoralise the police force only exposes his extreme ignorance and lack of respect for human life.

It is tantamount to admitting that the entire police force condones this despicable conduct within the force. This surely cannot be true. The entire police force can never be that heartless and ruthless. It is the black sheep in the police force who are the exception. They must be weeded out and punished to safeguard the good name of the police force. These criminals must not be protected as they would only tarnish the image of the police force and cause the loss of confidence by the public in their ability to act honourably and with integrity.

This is all the more reason why we need to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) urgently so that swift action can be taken against the wrong-doers in the police force. We urgently need a body that owes no allegiance to the powers that be to investigate the misdeeds of the police without any bias.

Aliran calls upon the Prime Minister to dismiss Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who seems to be ill-suited to head this important ministry. He doesn’t seem to respect the sanctity of human life and is totally incapable of inspiring trust in his leadership. Not only Dharmendran died during Zahid’s brief stewardship but there were two other deaths. On 26 May, R James Ramesh died in police custody in Penang and on 1 June, engineer P Karuna Nithi died in Tampin while in police custody – bringing the total to three custodial deaths in a span of 11 days. This is totally unacceptable.

Aliran also calls upon the PM to order the Inspector-General of Police to arrest and charge the four policemen who are implicated in the death of Dharmendran without any further delay. There should be no dragging of feet because a life has been brutally taken away – rendering a young wife a widow, a two-year-old son without a father and his parents the loss of a beloved son.

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive committee member
4 June 2013

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