Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Custodial deaths: How many more deaths must occur before the government will set up IPCMC?

Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on July 15, 2014

Custodial deaths: How many more deaths must occur before the government will set up IPCMC?

I welcome and applaud the setting up of a state-level committee by the Penang state government to monitor and address custodial deaths.

However, it has to be noted that the state government has set up the committee after it received no response to its letters sent enquiring about custodial deaths a month ago to the Attorney-General, the police and Health Minister Dr.S Subramaniam.

The federal government’s lack of seriousness and commitment to address custodial deaths is most disappointing, even irresponsible.

The government must stop giving excuses and must set up immediately the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said in Parliament last July that the proposed IPCMC was rejected because it went against the Federal Constitution, while denying natural justice.

However, Dzaiddin who chaired the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) which recommended the IPCMC had immediately come out to assert that IPCMC was consistent with the Federal Constitution.  

"Article 140 thereof provides that Parliament may by law provide for the exercise of Police Force Commission's disciplinary control over members of the police force in such manner and such authority as may be provided in that law.

"Therefore, there can be no doubt about its consistency with the Federal Constitution," he said in a statement in response to Zahid’s statement.

Last year, then High Court judge V.T. Singham had in the Kugan verdict said the IPCMC should be set up as soon as possible because members of the public and family members of victims involved had little confidence in investigations carried out by the police.

In June last year, the minister in charge of integrity and corruption Datuk Paul Low assured that the government was determined to stop all future tragedies behind bars.

“I can assure you that the government is very concerned with the alarming statistics and something has to be done.

“Do not think they are blind to what is out there. It is just that the process of government needs to find a solution to stop this,” he said.

So what has happened after Paul’s assurance? More custodial deaths.

I want to ask Paul if he has forgotten his assurance and how many more custodial deaths must happen before the federal government will set up the IPCMC. 

Can he explain why the government is so afraid and reluctant to support the IPCMC when other countries like UK and Australia have similar external oversight bodies?  

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