Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcomes the announcement by PDRM’s Management Director, Datuk Abd Rahim Jaafar on the introduction of custodial medical units to address custodial death in police detention.
The establishment of medical unit staffed by doctors have long been advocated by civil societies, lawyers and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the establishment will be a key factor in addressing custodial death due to medical issues.
SUARAM’s monitoring between 2011 to 2018 recorded that 56 out of 104 of reported custodial death cases were related to medical conditions of the detainee. With the introduction of the medical unit at the five centralized lockup, the issue of custodial death due to medical issues would undoubtedly be reduced and minimized in centralized lockups.
However, it must be noted that the medical unit would be operational in five centralized lockups, a relatively small number in comparison to more than 400 lock-up facilities gazetted across the country. Furthermore, many of the documented cases of custodial death attributable to health issues occur in other lockups within police stations across the country. The introduction of the medical unit if proven to be effective must be scaled up and made accessible to smaller lockups and detention facilities.
SUARAM calls on the administration to ensure that adequate resources are provisioned for the medical units to ensure the successful implementation of this policy and the eradication of custodial death.