Press Statement: 12 March 2013
Deaths in Police Custody List for 2013- This has to end
SUARAM once again publicise the list of deaths in custody so far in the country 2013. Please take note that we are only in the first quarter of the year.
14 January: Chang Chin Te – Died in the USJ8 Police Station, Subang Jaya
23 January: Sugumaran – Died while handcuffed on the street in Hulu Langat
1 February: Mohd.Ropi- Died at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Hospital while under Temerloh police custody
10 March: M. Ragu- Died in the Kampar Police Station
The list above highlights the deaths of an average of one person a month in police custody. They were all suspects who were in the lockup for further investigations by the police except for the latest death of M.Ragu, who was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for an assault case.
SUARAM calls on the police to ensure accountability for the so-called “sudden deaths” of the individuals name above who were healthy before they were apprehended but lost their lives while under the responsibility of the police.
The right to life is a non-derogable right guaranteed in Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However the cases above highlight how personnel from the Royal Police of Malaysia seem to have a lack of respect for this fundamental right and the value of human life.
The police force and the judiciary tend to respond swiftly to other cases of murder but continue to fail to take similar steps in cases of deaths under police custody. This sends a chilling message to the public that these deaths do not account and that police personnel can operate above the law with impunity in this country.
SUARAM calls on the authorities to ensure an independent and impartial investigation into all these cases and to make the findings public. The Officer in Charge of the Police District (OCPD) in areas where these cases occurred must be held responsible as these deaths occurred under their supervision.
Further, the police must be transparent about which police officers were directly in charge of the lockups where the deaths occurred. CCTV recordings of the lock ups as well the station diaries must also be made accessible. This has rarely occurred preventing the families of victims the necessary evidence to proceed with legal action against the perpetrators.
SUARAM also calls for the setting up of an independent oversight mechanism to make sure the Royal Police of Malaysia respects human rights and performs its duties in accordance to the law. The Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has been the ongoing call from civil society groups since it was first proposed by the Royal Police Commission back in 2005.
SUARAM wants an end to these serious human rights violations. The public wants an independent body to probe these deaths in custody and hold the perpetrators to account. The failure to ensure effective police accountability mechanisms highlights the lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police in this country.
Police Accountability and Reform Desk