Thursday, April 3, 2014

EAIC 'set up to fail', panel officer admits

10:50AM Apr 2, 2014-Malaysiakini

EAIC 'set up to fail', panel officer admits

Inadequate resources and a lack of staff cripples the commission meant to provide oversight over police misconduct, resulting in dead-end investigations, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its latest report.

This was among the HRW's findings from interviews with scores of victims of police misconduct, police officers, and oversight bodies, including the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).

One EAIC officer, who was not identified in the 102-page report titled 'No Answers, No Apology: Police Abuses and Accountability in Malaysia', said that the lack of resources for the commission also meant that the commission was "being set up to fail".

This is because the commission, which was established in April 2011 to oversee 19 government enforcement agencies including the police, could not deliver on its broad mandate on its small budget.

For 2014, EAIC has been allocated RM7.7 million, which is a fraction of what the government allocated to propaganda unit Biro Tatanegara (RM60.6 million).

Since its establishment until the end of 2012, only one disciplinary action and two warnings were handed down by the EAIC.

Insufficient resources meant investigations take at least "two to three months", with HRW noting only one investigator was employed at the EAIC at the end of June 2013.

This was after several of its investigating officers were recalled to their previous agencies, including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

This is far from the ideal 10 investigating officers and 10 research officers required to do the job, as estimated by former EAIC chief executive Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar.

Nor Afizah Hanum herself, the HRW reported, was transferred out of the commission last year after she made some critical statements in the media.

Malaysians paying the price

Former member of the 2004 Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Police Misconduct Denison Jayashooria cautioned in 2012 the EAIC's effectiveness would depend on whether the government would adequately fund it, and on the degree of police cooperation with the EAIC.

The EAIC also does not have power to compel enforcement agencies to take disciplinary actions recommended by the commission, which could mean that its investigations would be rendered impotent.

According to the HRW, the government needed to urgently create an independent, external commission with the sole task of receiving and investigating complaints about the Royal Malaysian Police.

"Malaysia’s police are not accountable to anyone but themselves, and ordinary people across the country too often pay the price with broken bodies and tragically shortened lives," HRW'S deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.

"The Malaysian government needs to put in place effective oversight of the police to end the wrongful deaths, preventable abuse in custody, and excessive use of force on the streets."

The EAIC was established as a compromise by PM Najib Razak following public demands for the formation of the powerful Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) mooted by the RCI.               

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