KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The police should not be held responsible for deaths in custody caused by health reasons as these detainees had prior medical conditions before they were arrested, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said today.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) also said the report on lockup deaths released yesterday by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) was “misleading” as it failed to consider specific details of each case and only highlighted the number of deaths.
“On Suhakam’s comments on deaths in lockups, Suhakam should look at the deaths according to case by case basis, the reasons of the death… rather than emphasising on the total figure, which gives a wrong impression and (is) misleading,” Khalid told Malay Mail Online.
Yesterday Suhakam issued a report that cited possible negligence on the part of the police as a plausible cause of death for some detainees.
The commission noted deaths in police custody were mainly caused by health problems but said some could have been partly due to denial to medical attention and an alleged lack of proper medical facilities in lockups nationwide.
But Khalid insisted that these detainees died because of they were sickly even before they were locked up.
“It is more due to the prisoner’s health condition before arrests,” he said.
There has been a total of 255 lockup deaths from 2000 to 2014, with 81 per cent said to be caused by health issues.
Suhakam in its report said two-thirds of the detainees it interviewed for the report claimed they had been denied medical attention, mostly due to “prejudice” of the investigating officers who assumed their complaints were intended to waste time.
The commission also noted that most police lockups either had no medical rooms or failed to meet the required standards.
But Khalid said the police are still working to remedy the problems.
“We have taken steps to improve our lockup conditions nationwide. Further Improvement is ongoing”.
The issue of deaths in police detention made headlines last year after opposition lawmakers highlighted the problem in Parliament and called for laws to be enacted to hold police officers and the government liable for such cases.
Last year the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission in its report said physical torture inflicted on detainees by investigating officers is a serious problem, and could have caused some of the deaths.
But Khalid said police brutality has reduced significantly and that efforts are underway to improve standard operating procedures.
- Suhakam: Detainees denied medical treatment due to police ‘prejudice’ [20 Apr 2016]