Sunday, May 31, 2015

A death is not just a statistic. Custodial deaths must not become the rule of the day.

Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on 31st May, 2015

A death is not just a statistic. Custodial deaths must not become the rule of the day.

At the "Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions - Police Accountability in Malaysia" forum held yesterday , former chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah said that deaths in custody were only possible because the police has turned a blind eye towards police violence, with disregard over human rights and weak self-accountability.

He said that this police culture has been instilled even starting at their training stage, where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life.

Mohamed Dzaiddin’s remarks are certainly right and deserve urgent government and police actions but will they fall on deaf ears again like before? 

Custodial deaths should and can be tackled with a two pronged approach – the changing of Police mindset and the implementation of the independent Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). 

But what has been most lacking is the lack of political will on the part of the government and lack of total commitment of the police force to carry out the necessary and urgent change and reform.

In 2006, when Kajang police was heavily criticized by the public for shaving bald 10 men caught for gambling during Chinese New Year, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd  Bakri Omar had then said the following frank remarks at a human rights seminar held for the country’s  police district chiefs:

"We have been teaching you about human rights all along ... you cannot say we have not been teaching you. If this (three-day seminar) is not enough, then we can make it longer.   After that, if you still do not understand (about human rights), then you might as well look for another job. We don’t want stupid officers." 

9 years have passed since Bakri made the comments, how much has changed about the Police culture?  Has the respect for human rights by the police improved ? 

It is an undeniable fact that Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC), a watered down version of IPCMC has been a complete failure in eradicating police abuses. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low who has in the past assured that the government will curb custodial deaths and defended the setting up of EAIC must not give any more excuses about not supporting the setting up of IPCMC.

Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar has recently declared that if no reform is done to Parliament, he is prepared to resign his position. 

Paul should emulate Pandikar’s courage and commitment to change.
A death is not just a statistic. Custodial deaths must not become the rule of the day.

Paul should press for the immediate setting up of IPCMC at the next Cabinet meeting and be prepared to resign his Ministership if Cabinet rejects his proposal.

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