Press Statement by Stop State Violence Movement

30 May 2013

In responding to the announcement of the Royal Malaysian Police that a special committee on custodial deaths would be set up and headed by the Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, the Stop State Violence Movement urges the IGP to address the root causes of custodial deaths that violate fundamental human rights especially of right to life and free from torture. This cosmetic move will not increase the current low level of people’s confidence in the police force and other enforcement agencies.

We as members of civil society has are simply fed up with such cosmetic reforms implemented by the government, which has not realized any positive outcome of eliminating custodial deaths. It still continues to remain a state sponsored form of violence where the perpetrators are able toa ct with impunity.

The remarkable proposal of the Royal Commission of Inquiry of the Police to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission has been rejected by the former IGP Bakri Omar. We are clear that the only way to make perpetrators accountable, move away from peer pressure and support and ensure effect check and balance oversight is through an independent mechanism.

However, in 2007, the government introduced a special complaints commission (SSC) bill that covered complaints in relation to all enforcement agencies. Eventually, an Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Bill (EAIC), a substitution of special complaints bill, was passed in the parliament in March 2009.

When the Bill was passed, civil society members like Amnesty International Malaysia and Suaram had expressed serious concerns that such an act will become useless as it failed to address the fundamental issues of custodial deaths and torture and completely lacked the powers for independent investigation processes. . The Malaysian Bar Council likened the EAIC to a “toothless tiger” because it can only make recommendations but had no power to act. The civil society has foreseen how watered down resolutions to circumvent the formation of the IPCMC is a waste of time, energy and money.

On 21 May 2013, the former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad questioned the capability of EAIC in handling public complaints related to misconduct of enforcement officers. According to him, out of 347 complaints received, only 3 cases were fully investigated and one case referred to the disciplinary committee of the Royal Malaysian Police. He cautioned that the total expenditure of RM14 million for the two years operation was very costly.

It is indeed very clear from the experience of the operations of the EAIC, that the current proposal to establish a national team within the police force to be headed by the IGP will be another failure of another cosmetic reform. The proposed centralisation of police detention does not match with the demand of civil society that people want total revamp of police force and holistic reforms of various government institutions to end state-sponsored violence Stop pulling wool over our eyes. Both the Home Minister and the IGP must stop such forms of public relations exercise.

The only way to end torture and deaths in custody is to make all enforcement officers be conscious that non compriomising actions will be taken and perpetrators made accountable. We have a solution and that is to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission. The government should also move to ratify the UN Convention against Torture to give its political commitment that the country does not condone nor tolerate torture, in particular by state agencies. Therefore, we should just move forward and set it to ensure accountability, transparency, good governance and respect of human rights.

END

Stop State Violence Movement