Press statement by Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy on 24 January 2019 in Petaling Jaya

Human Rights Audit for Custodial Death

Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy expresses our grave concern on the death and allegation of torture of Mr. M. Thinagaran in custody of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Port Klang on 13 January 2019 where he was being held in remand.

We call upon the police to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the custodial death by scrunitising possibility of foul play. We also urge SUHAKAM to conduct human rights audits for all custodial death cases, including the death of M. Thinagaran.

Human rights audit is an important measure to ensure current policy, regulation and execution of government departments are in compliance with human rights standards. The audit findings and subsequent changes could prevent or correct occurrence of human rights violation and safeguard public interest.

Human rights audit is not new. The Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted numerous human rights audits since 2004. The scope of the audits including youth detention centre, operation of ACT correctional facilities, youth justice centre and treatment of women.

In the past two decades, we have witnessed more than one thousand deaths in police lokap, MACC custody, immigration detention centre, prisons and MMEA. The unusual high number of custodial death raises suspicion that can the authorities protect detainees’ fundamental human rights such as right to not to be tortures, right to access to medical treatment and a hygienic environment.

It is high time for the government to provide larger budget for SUHAKAM in order to conduct human rights audit. The cabinet must give full backing to SUHAKAM and ensure all relevant departments give full cooperation in the audits.

Thinagaran was 31 years old, a husband and father of 2 kids. He was arrested and detained by the MMEA officials while fishing in Tanjung Gurung, Sepang with another suspect, in possession of 23 kg of drugs, believed to be methamphetamine, in his boat. Next, he was remanded for seven days started on 9 January 2019.

He was found dead on 13 January 2019 purportedly by hanging. Nevertheless, according to Thinagaran’s father and uncle who met him recently few days before, Thinagaran had complained to them that he was beaten up in the MMEA detention centre.

Ng Geok Chee
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy