6 Deaths in 4 Months: Unstoppable Deaths In Prison And Police Lockups

The nation was once again shocked with another gruesome death of an inmate in Kajang prison last Friday, 10 April 2014. N. Harirajan, a 34 years old man, serving his six years imprisonment sentence for robbery since last December was found dead in a gruesome state.

This case reminds us of the case of Kugan (2009), Dharmendaran (2013) and Karunanithi (2013), who were found with injuries and blood stains on their bodies at the mortuary when their family members came to claim the body. Latest victim of the state violence and possible torture, Harirajan faced similar injuries with bruises on chest, head, stitch above his right eyes and bleeding from both ears. His eyes were still wide open while in the mortuary.

SUARAM demands an explanation over the condition of this young man in the hospital mortuary. How does he end up with blood stains on his body if the prison authorities claimed that he died of HIV? Furthermore, the family of Harirajan was only notified by the Kajang prison authorities in the afternoon although the family was informed at the mortuary that Harirajan died at 6.00am. Why such a delay in informing the family members over the death of Harirajan? Is the Kajang prison authorities trying to hide something?

Every individual’s right to life is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. Article 5 provides that “…No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law…” Similarly, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “…Everyone has the right to life, to be free and to feel safe…” Unfortunately this seems not to be the case in Malaysia.

Below are the names of suspects and inmates who died while under the custody of the authorities.

List of suspects die in police lockup for 2014:

Date Name Age Location
10 Feb 2014 A. Punniyanathan 34 Nibong Tebal Police Station
18 Feb 2014 J. Kunathangam 34 Dang Wangi Police Station
1 Mac 2014 Ramasamy Nagu 50 Bayan Baru Police Station

List of inmates die in prison for 2014:

Date Name Age Location
8 Mac 2014 Kamarulnizam 39 Tapah Prison
6 April 2014 Koay Soon Guan 41 Penang Prison
10 April 2014 N. Harirajan 34 Kajang Prison

Unfortunately the list is sure to grow longer by the end of the year. Interrogation methods and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in handling criminal suspects and prisoners must be urgently reviewed and reformed. The police force must undergo an immediate overhaul and provide urgent training in basic human rights and the proper and humane treatment of prisoners and detainees. At present the police force act with absolute impunity with very few police officers actually punished for abuse of powers. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, the number of cruel deaths in custody will continue to rise.

It is high time for the government to implement its own findings initiated through the Royal Commission and make a stand in reforming its police force by establishing the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without any further delay. The implementation of this nine-year pending recommendation would restore public confidence and trust in the police force. The rising cases of deaths in custody in 2014 and the inaction of the Enforcement Agency and Integrity Commission (EAIC) to stop such cases again goes to show that the EAIC has failed miserably in addressing the abuse of power by the police.

SUARAM demands an immediate end to these serious human rights violations. The failure to ensure effective mechanisms to hold the Malaysian police accountable highlight a serious lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police force in this country.

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