PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has described as deplorable and hazardous the health conditions at the Ayer Molek police lock-up.
Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail based this on a visit to the lock-up in Johor Bahru on July 31.He said the Ayer Molek lock-up, and others in similar conditions, should be closed if the situation could not be improved.He said he found that all the cells at the lock-up were in extremely poor and dilapidated conditions.The conditions were so poor that they amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Razali added in a statement today.
Razali also noted a shortage of clean lock-up clothes and bedding.He said the cells were small, without adequate lighting or ventilation.The Ayer Molek police lock-up was formerly a prison which could hold 180 inmates. It was converted into a police lock-up in 2009.During the visit, Suhakam received complaints about the quantity and quality of food provided.
“Suhakam finds it unacceptable that the daily food budget for detainees is RM8 for three meals per detainee.”
He believed that similar circumstances exist in other lock-ups as well and the budget allocated must be increased.
The detainees were also deprived of drinking water.
“Suhakam is extremely concerned to learn that drinking water was only provided three times a day.”
Drinking water should be made available to every prisoner whenever he needs it, he added.
Razali took note of the absence of a medical team or medical officer at the lock-up. Under the Lock-up Rules 1953 immediate medical care must be given to detainees.
“Overcrowding, inadequate access to healthcare services, poor nutrition, hygiene and sanitation are not only violations of human rights, but these conditions increase the risk of the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis within the lock-up.”
Even police officers stationed at the lock-up have contracted TB from sick detainees, he added.
“Suhakam observes that the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules), which is a soft law instrument that contains provisions protecting the human rights and personal liberties of detainees, are not being fully complied with in this case,” Razali said.
He called on the home affairs ministry to take immediate steps to remedy the deplorable and inhumane conditions endured by those who are on remand and not yet charged.
He reiterated that treating persons deprived of their liberty with humanity and respect for their dignity is a basic and universally applicable tenet.
This cannot be dependent on budget or financial resources, he added.