Whenever an individual dies when they are in the custody of any government agency, the death would be considered as a death in custody. In Malaysia, documented cases of death in custody usually falls under the Royal Malaysian Police, the Prison Department or the Immigration Department.
In Human Rights Commissions of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) report on death in police custody (available here), death in police custody is defined to encompass the following:
- Death that occurs during arrest by police
- Death that occurs when an individual is in police detention
- Death that occurs when individuals under police custody is on their way to the hospital or any health or treatment centers to receive treatment.
Similarly, whenever an individual dies in prison or immigration detention center, similar definition of custody applies to the Prison Department and Immigration Department.
While there are death in custody cases attributable to the use of torture, negligence, apathy and/or lack of appropriate action in the event of medical emergency or health problem has contributed to substantial amount of the documented cases of death in custody.