Saturday, July 2, 2016

The issue of custodial deaths should be tackled with a two-pronged approach – the changing of police mindset and the implementation of the independent Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission



Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 2nd July , 2016


The issue of custodial deaths should be tackled with a two-pronged approach – the changing of police mindset and the implementation of the independent Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission
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In a recent written reply to my parliamentary question, Home Ministry said that there were a total of 269 deaths in custody nationwide over the past 16 years.
The answer revealed that:
1. two hundred and twenty of the deaths were caused by a series of illnesses that damaged the vital organs of the inmates
2. for 102 deaths in custody since 2000, it was decided by the court that no inquest was necessary, while inquests into 85 such deaths had been done
3. fourteen deaths in custody are still in the inquest process, while investigations are ongoing for another 15 cases

The annual number of deaths certainly shows that there is a systemic problem which must be effectively addressed.

The government must realise that every life is important and all prisoners have the same right to life as others.

At the “Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions - Police Accountability in Malaysia” forum held recently, 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.

"On 4 February 2004 Dzaiddin was appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong as chairman of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police. On 30 April 2005,the Report was submitted to the Government. It contained 125 recommendations,the core proposal was the establishment of a body called the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)."
The 2005 report, proposed that the IPCMC shall conduct oversight of police and in this regard perform the following main functions:
i) receive and investigate complaints about PDRM and its personnel;
ii) prevent, detect and investigate corruption and other serious misconduct
in PDRM;
iii) propose measures to the Minister of Internal Security to improve police integrity, reduce misconduct and build public confidence in PDRM.

The issue of custodial deaths should therefore 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).

However, till today, the government has been refusing to set up the IPCMC, which is a body that should be set up instead of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).

It is an undeniable fact that EAIC, a watered down version of IPCMC, has not been able to eradicate police abuses.

The government cannot take custodial deaths as mere statistics and allow them to become the rule of the day.

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