Custodial deaths: Enforcement needed, not just recommendations — P Ramasamy

Source: Free Malaysia Today


The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) might not have the “teeth” to prosecute those who have abused detainees or who caused the deaths of those in custody. However, despite its lack of prosecution powers, the EAIC has done some excellent work in recommending actions to be taken against police officials who have abused their power and those who have engaged in serious misconduct.

Whether the government will act on the recommendations to check or discipline members of the police force guilty of abusing power remains to be seen. However, if the past is any indication of what is to come, the government might have little political interest in disciplining members of the police force.

Given this situation, the setting up of an Independent Police Conduct and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) cannot be delayed any further. The EAIC needs to be complemented by an agency that has independent powers of prosecution.

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Breach of conduct, power abuse by police caused detainee’s death, says group

Source: The Malaysian Insight

BREACH of conduct and power abuse by police are what caused the death of detainee S. Balamurugan last year, said the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).

It was reported that EAIC chief A. Aziz A. Rahim said police had failed to heed the magistrates’ court’s order to immediately hospitalise Balamurugan.

“The commission finds that police’s failure to release the deceased after their remand order was rejected by the magistrate is a serious misconduct,” Aziz told reporters in Putrajaya.

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Coroner: Cops careless, diabetic man in lockup could live if treated

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Police lock up – file pic taken from The Star

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — The police had acted negligently and had failed to ensure immediate medical treatment that could have saved a diabetic man from dying in 2015 after just around three days in the Dang Wangi lockup, a coroner ruled today.

Coroner Mohd Zulbahrin Zainuddin noted that R. Thangaraja’s family had testified that he had suffered from diabetes since the age of 21 and had required insulin injections twice a day to avoid feeling dizzy, and that he had in the past been brought to the hospital over his condition.

“Although the cause of death is associated with heart attack and diabetes, it is this court’s finding that the deceased’s life could have been saved if early treatment was given to him while he was in detention, even more so when there were signs of him being ill.

“The failure to give early treatment to the deceased is linked to the carelessness of the lockup management that failed to provide the attention and consideration due to the deceased who was proven to have suffered from health problems since he was first detained in the Dang Wangi lockup,” said Mohd Zulbahrin, who is also a Sessions Court judge. Read more

Class bias and deaths in custody — P Ramasamy

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Free Malaysia Today

Many custodial deaths involve detainees from the lower socio-economic segment of society, says Penang DCM.

By P Ramasamy

There seems to be no political will on the part of the government to address the issue of custodial deaths – deaths that occur even before remand prisoners are brought to trial in court.

Whether there is link between the lack of political will and the social class of those who have died in custody remains to be seen.

However, a cursory examination will reveal that deaths in custody involve those who are in the working class, especially those who are poor and who lack power and family support.

Talk of ensuring justice for remand prisoners and others is empty.

Custodial deaths are not confined to police lock-ups but also take place among remand prisoners in prisons.

Lately, statistics indicate that custodial deaths in prisons have risen.  Read more

Deceased man allegedly told mother he was being beaten in police custody

Source: The Star

KLANG: The family of a 29-year-old man alleged that he died in police custody four days after he was arrested to assist into the investigation of several break-in cases.

The family members of G. Ganeshwaran, who had been remanded, claimed that he was beaten up when they saw him at the court house on Friday (Dec 15).

The despatch rider was arrested last Thursday by police officers from the South Klang district police headquarters (IPD) and was still under remand.

Ganeshwaran’s sister, who did not want to be named, said that when her mother went to the court Friday for his brother’s remand, he told her that he was beaten up in the lockup. Read more

Malaysians step up to end deaths behind bars

Source: The Malay Mail Online

EDICT spokesman M. Visvanathan says it’s not true that only guilty people die in custody. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 ― Lawyers and activists have banded together to form EDICT, Malaysia’s first-ever group that is solely focused on stopping abuse and deaths in custody.

EDICT spokesman M. Visvanathan said there is currently no specific NGO set up to seek a holistic solution to deaths in custody.

“It’s a very big problem actually. I think nobody should die in custody, we are a country that prides itself in building KLCC, MRT.

“We have developed so far, we have grown as a nation and we have accomplished many things but why is it that we cannot keep people alive in prisons, in detention camps, or in lockups? Why do they die? If they can walk in, surely they can walk out, why do they need to come out on a stretcher dead?” he told Malay Mail in a recent interview. Read more

Court ruling sends message it’s cheaper to kill suspects, warn lawyers

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: A Federal Court majority ruling which stops family members from filing a claim for exemplary damages is a licence for law enforcement officers to kill suspects under their custody, a retired judge and lawyers said.

Not only was the majority decision wrong, it sent a dangerous message to enforcement agencies, they said.

Retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said the majority verdict was an advice to the government that it was cheaper to kill than to maim.

He said the position now was that if a suspect was assaulted in custody and beaten within an inch of his life, then the government was liable to pay exemplary damages to the victim.

“But if the victim dies as a result of the violence inflicted on him there is no need to pay exemplary damages because the Civil Law Act (CLA) 1956 says so,” he told FMT. Read more

Apex court rules out exemplary damages for death in lock-up cases

Source: FMT News

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court, in a majority decision, today held that the families of persons who die in custody are not entitled to exemplary damages for a breach of a constitutional right.

Justice Zaharah Ibrahim said the Federal Constitution did not give the Malaysian courts the same power as other jurisdictions.

In the cases of Romanoop (Trinidad and Tobago) and Merson (Bahamas), the constitutions of both countries allowed aggrieved parties to make claims for exemplary damages for breach of constitutional right.

“As our constitution does not have provisions similar to those utilised in Ramanoop and Merson, a claimant has to look elsewhere for redress,” said Zaharah in allowing the government’s appeal against the next of kin of three deceased persons. Read more

It was murder in prison, Shashikumar inquest told

Source: FMT News

JOHOR BHARU: The inquest into the death of S Shashikumar, who was found hanged at the Kluang prison on May 22, 2015, ended yesterday before coroner Kamarudin Kamsom.

Lawyers P Waythamoorthy and Karthigesan Shanmugam, who appeared for the family of Shashikumar, submitted that he had died either of strangulation or hanging by person or persons unknown.

Waytha told the inquest that there was a cover up of the murder and that the prison and police officers who had investigated the death of Shashikumar had done a very poor job.

He said the officers who gave evidence were evasive in their answers and that many questions had been left unanswered, including about a drug ring in the prison. Read more

An urgent call for reform in the post-mortem process in custodial deaths (Part 2) — Eric Paulsen

Source: The Malay Mail Online


OCTOBER 25 — This is the second and final part of the opinion piece on custodial deaths by Eric Paulsen. The first part is accessible at this link.

Are Malaysian pathologists trained to ‘think dirty’?

It is important to note that the Shipman Inquiry uncovered amongst coroners and pathologists, an ‘attitude that it will be to everyone’s satisfaction if a cause of death can be found that will enable the coroner to certify the cause of death without further delay, cost or inconvenience’, and ‘it is easy to see how this attitude can become entrenched.’ To counter this, the Inquiry recommended that pathologists should be instructed and trained to ‘think dirty’ — that is, not to approach each death with the expectation that there will be ‘something wrong’ but to keep in mind the worst possibility and actively look out for signs of non-natural death. Read more