Lawyers renew call for special commission on police misconduct


Source: Free Malaysia Today 

EDICT spokesman M. Visvanathan — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers and rights activists have again called for a special commission to address police misconduct, in the wake of the confirmation that police were to blame for the death in custody of S Balamurugan last year.

They said that only an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) can address the issue.

Lawyer M Visvanathan said no suspects should die in lock-ups during an investigation, as they are innocent until proven guilty in court.

“It is sad when body bags are sent to family members when persons held die due to torture or medical complications,” he said at the forum “Rule of Law and Police Accountability” at a private college here.

He said there was this perception by some that a detainees’s death was not a crime because they were criminals.

Visvanathan, who is the founder of a group campaigning against abuse of police detainees, said people must express outrage everytime such cases occur.

“The executive, legislature and the judiciary will take notice when there is a public outcry,” he said, adding that MPs must be petitioned to bring about reforms.

It was revealed in Parliament last year that between 2010 and 2016, there were 110 deaths in police lock-ups, including 20 foreigners.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said suspects not only died due to failure of police to provide timely medical assistance, but also because they were tortured.

He said without the IPCMC, grievances are reported to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), a body set up to only look into misconduct of law enforcement agencies.

On Thursday, the EAIC concluded that police were to blame for the death of S Balamurugan at a police lock-up in Klang in February last year.

Sevan questioned the government’s political will to stop custodial deaths, and said this could be addressed at the polls.

Lawyer R Sivaraj said Malaysians must press the government for the IPCMC.

Such a commission was among 125 recommendations of a royal commission on the police force headed by retired chief justice Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, which released its report in 2005.

“We need a watchdog like the IPCMC as police do not act professionally when reports are lodged against them,” said Sivaraj, who is also a member of the Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC.