Ex-CJ: Shifting police culture towards human rights a mammoth task

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Source: The Star Online

Ex-chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah says death in custody happens where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life. ― File pic

Ex-chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah says death in custody happens where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: It will be a mammoth task to change the attitude of the police to respect basic human rights, says Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.

The former Chief Justice renewed his call for the Government to set up an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). He had pushed for it a decade ago.

He recommended the setting-up of the IPCMC after heading the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Police Reform in 2004.

However, the Government created the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC), which Mohamed Dzaiddin said had failed to stop incidents of policemen abusing their powers.

He said a radical shift in police culture towards human rights would be a difficult task that would require a lot of effort from the Government and civil society.

“The political will for IPCMC has yet to reach its apex,” he said during a public forum on police accountability organised by the Bar Council and the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) yesterday.

“Reforming the EAIC is the best alternative,” he added.

Mohamed Dzaiddin said “an attitude of indifference to basic human rights” existed in the force, even during the training phase of new officers.

He said the EAIC needed to make their investigation process and findings more transparent and for the commission’s Act to be overhauled “to give them power to compel action against the police”.

The 2015 Suhakam report revealed that 242 people died in police custody from 2000 to February 2014. Only two were deemed to be a result of police misconduct. Mohamed Dzaiddin said of the RM14mil spent between 2010 and 2012, only one disciplinary action and two warnings were given by the EAIC.

“It’s a questionable use of public money,” he added.

EAIC commissioner Leong May Chan, who was present, said her agency was under-funded and needed more “bite” to rein in abusive policemen.

“The IPCMC can reprimand or dismiss officers or downgrade their ranks. The EAIC doesn’t have such powers. We can only recommend punishments,” she said, adding that the police were not obligated to heed EAIC’s suggestions.

“You can push for the IPCMC. Or we can reform the EAIC and give us more powers,” she said.

Both Dzaiddin and Leong were speaking at the Forum on Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions – Police Accountability in Malaysia, a collaboration between the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM) and Bar Council Malaysia via its Task Force on IPCMC, which took place on 30 May 2015 in Kuala Lumpur.