Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 4 April 2019
The conclusion by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) public inquiry that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh, who vanished in 2016 and 2017 respectively, were victims of enforced disappearance is the most serious indictment against the Malaysian Police to date. Suhakam has also concluded the perpetrators were members of the Special Branch.
Throughout the years since the enforced disappearance of these men, the police and the Home Ministry have maintained an unacceptable nonchalance. They have consistently refused to acknowledge that they played any role in the abduction and/ or whereabouts of the disappeared persons. Now they have been fingered as the abductors of these two hapless men, those in the Special Branch, the IGP as well as the Home Ministry who ordered the abductions must be brought to book.
The Prime Minister and the Attorney General must step in without a moment’s delay to ensure the release of these two men and to deal with all those responsible for their enforced disappearance.
Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of a person, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the fate of that person. In this case, Suhakam has concluded that the agents of the Malaysian State, namely, the Special Branch of the Malaysian Police Force perpetrated this crime.
Enforced disappearance is a heinous crime in international law. Such arbitrary detention is not only a violation of the rights of the victims but also of their families, often equated with psychological torture. A disappeared person is also at a high risk of torture and other human rights violations, such as sexual violence or even murder. Systematically perpetrated against civilians, it is considered a crime against humanity.
Enforced disappearance is frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generates is enormous for the close relatives of the disappeared, and also affects communities and society as a whole. Those most at risk include human rights defenders, relatives of those already disappeared, key witnesses and lawyers.
“New Malaysia” must never tolearate the enforced disappearances largely used by military dictatorships and banana republics. We therefore call on the Prime Minister to secure the immediate release of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat and to bring the perpetrators of this despicable crime to justice. Only then can we salvage the already damaged reputation of Malaysia as a democratic country that respects the rule of law and human rights.