THE FORMATION OF THE CITIZEN ACTION GROUP ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (CAGED)

5 May 2017

THE FORMATION OF THE CITIZEN ACTION GROUP ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (CAGED)

Today we wish to announce the formation of the Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) to monitor cases of enforced disappearance in Malaysia.

In the last two months, civil society organisations led by Suaram has been monitoring with great concern the mysterious abductions of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat, and the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth.

After more than 5 months since the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and Ruth, and coming to 3 months since Raymond Koh’s abduction, the police are no closer to solving these crimes. Based on CCTV footage and eye-witness accounts of the abductions of Pastor Raymond and Amri, where professionally trained personnel seem to be involved and the fact that till today no ransom demands have been made for all cases, we should assume that they are victims of “enforced disappearance”.

Article 2 of the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defined “Enforced Disappearance” as…

“…the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

The objectives of CAGED are :

  1. To push the State to respect and to inform the public in general, the fundamental right to life, personal liberty, the right to move freely and the right to a fair trial of all persons within our borders.
  2. To help victims and their families to seek justice and redress.
  3. To create awareness of the cases and issues of enforced disappearance to the public so that the horrors of enforced disappearance are exposed and rejected by society.
  4. To coordinate advocacy actions with citizen groups throughout the nation and globally.

With the formation of CAGED, we wish to announce the following initiatives, some of which are a continuation of what the working group have started even before formation.

  1. On 7th April, 2017, we came out with a statement that was endorsed by 46 non-governmental organisations (NGO), urging the police to use all resources available to them to resolve these cases and to regularly update the families and the public. We will continue to get more organisations to endorse the statement and the work of CAGED.
  2. To coordinate nationwide solidarity vigils for the missing persons until there is a closure to each case. Vigils have been organised in over 10 cities and towns nationwide. It is our aim to coordinate them so that we could have at least TWO vigils every week with each location only needing to hold it ONCE a month. In this way, we would ensure that this issue will remain alive in the public sphere and that the missing are not forgotten.
  3. To lobby for support and action from local agencies so that pressure will be brought to bear on the State to resolve and to respond to these enforced disappearances. We have already submitted a memorandum to Suhakam (Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia) and we plan to make a report to The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) on the conduct of the investigation by the police thus far.
  4. To lobby for support and action from international agencies like the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) under the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other international advocacy groups.
  5. To assist family of victims who may need help to highlight their plight and seek justice, we are launching a special hotline phone number and an e-mail address they can contact us on. The hotline number is +6(0)11-2424 4877 and the e-mail address (click here)

There is a possibility that there are other victims of enforced disappearance that we are unaware of. The families and friends of victims can contact us and we will maintain confidentiality if requested. We are particularly interested in the disappearances of people working on political, religious or social issues and where no ransom monies were demanded.

The issue of enforced disappearance is a new issue in Malaysia. Whether committed by State-sanctioned agencies or not, it is a crime committed against a person and it has no place in a civilised society. If we are not a nation governed by the rule of law, we are becoming a lawless nation. If as citizens we do not speak up our rejection of enforced disappearance, we become complicit to it and would only encourage repetitions of it.

Say No to Enforced Disappearance!

Statement issued by the Citizens’ Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED)