Putrajaya must answer questions on Wang Kelian death camps, says human rights society

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https://hakam.org.my/wp/2017/12/20/putrajaya-must-answer-questions-on-wang-kelian-death-camps-says-human-rights-society/
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Source: The Malaysian Insight

An armed police officer stands guard at an abandoned camp and mass graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis, in 2015, following the discovery of 139 graves in 28 detention camps for human trafficking victims. – EPA pic.

THE National Human Rights Society (Hakam) has demanded that Putrajaya answer the questions raised in a recent investigative report on human trafficking death camps that were discovered in the jungles of Wang Kelian, Perlis in 2015.

In a statement today, Hakam president Ambiga Sreenevasan praised the “courageous” journalists who had disclosed a possible cover-up by the authorities, in particular, the police.

“The reports state that there are corrupt public officials involved, indicating that organised crime continued to take place over an extensive time-frame that could not have been done without the aid of public officials,” she said.

Ambiga said Hakam demanded to know why the initial discovery of the death camps were kept secret and who had ordered that the crime scene be sanitised and destroyed. She also asked why the Perlis police, who knew of the existence of the camps, were not held accountable for turning a blind eye.

The government must also provide full disclosure on the discovery of another such camp in Bukit Genting Perah;  the status of the suspects who were arrested during a snatch-and-grab mission in Bukit Genting Perah; and follow-up action on the report on the Bukit Wang Burma death camps, she said.

She said across the border, Thai courts had acted against Thai nationals linked to the Wang Kelian death camps and convicted 62 people, including an army general, two provincial politicians and several police officers, of human trafficking.

“Shamefully, Malaysia has not held the culprits accountable for this heinous crimes save for laying charges against four foreign nationals, one of whom has been convicted. (According to media reports) Twelve police officers were detained but later released.

“Just as shamefully, despite this unacceptable state of affairs, the US Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 elevated Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2.”

National Human Rights Society president Ambiga Sreenevasan says investigative news reports have revealed not just horrifying crimes against humanity, including murder, but a seeming cover-up or mismanagement by those in power. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 20, 2017.

She said after a Malay Mail expose in 2015, Hakam and the Malaysian Bar each submitted a memorandum to Suhakam urging that an independent inquiry be conducted into the discovery of the death camps, allegations of human trafficking, torture, and mass killings.

“However, we were made to understand that Suhakam’s budget was dramatically reduced in 2015 and 2016, which made it difficult for them to employ resources to initiate an inquiry,” she said.

But for the investigative journalists, she said, the deaths of hundreds would have gone unheeded and unexplained

“These chilling news reports disclosed not just horrifying crimes against humanity that includes murder of innocent and defenceless human beings, but regrettably the seeming cover-up or mismanagement by those in authority thereafter.

“Such criminal acts are made possible by parasites within the system aiding in the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of innocent people including women and children.”

Hakam called on Suhakam to inquire into the investigative report published by the newspapers and to commence a probe into the “highly unacceptable state of affairs”

Should the government fail to fund Suhakam’s effort, she said Hakam would engage with civil society members to raise the necessary funds so that the human rights commission might undertake “this urgent and necessary probe”. – December 20, 2017.