URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011 STOP POLICE BRUTALITY: ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA (SUARAM) LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY (LFL)

URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011

STOP POLICE BRUTALITY:
ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARAM and Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) was informed by a family member of Muhamad Arif bin Abu Semah, detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) since 19 March 2011 that he has been tortured badly under detention.

According to the family members and friends, Muhamad Arif has lost a lot of weight and is currently being denied access to his lawyers at the Rawang police station.

Laywer Edward Saw and Muhamad Arif’s family members went to the Rawang police station to meet him earlier today. When they arrived, the police refused to give Edward access to Muhamad Arif they had not received any instructions from IPD Gombak. Edward tried to negotiate with the police officers, but was unsuccessful. He was told to contact the officers from IPD Gombak.

Muhamad Arif’s family members only managed to spend 3 minutes each with him as the police had only allowed two family members in at a time. During one of these sessions, Fuqran, a family friend, was stopped by a plain clothes police officer, asked his identity card, had his hands restrained and was pulled him out of the room. This act shocked the family members present and the police officer disappeared without apology or explanation.

The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the actions of the plain clothes officer who did not properly identify himself and acted with impunity. SUARAM and LFL condemn the brutal behaviour of the police officer and the silence of his fellow officers who did not stop or restrain him at all. This clearly illustrates the fact that the Malaysian police force is in need of an immediate and true reform.

SUARAM and LFL demands that the Inspector General of Police must:

a) Release Muhamad Arif immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;
b) Take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Muhamad Arif and Fuqran;
c) Support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
d) Stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;
e) undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;
f) Require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;
g) Support human rights education and training programmes, with a view of changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Released by,

Nalini.E
SUARAM

Shot dead by cops: Nameless no more

It has long been known that of those shot dead by police, ethnic Indians made up a disproportionate number of the fatalities. Based on the recently released statistics by the police, that is true.

rights groups on shooting deaths 041210 posingBut for the first time, details such as the age, ethnicity and nationality of almost all 279 people – citizens as well as foreign nationals – who have been killed by the police from 2000 to 2009 were today revealed by human rights groups.

Malaysiakini has earlier reported that since 2001, there had been a 17-fold surge in fatal police shootings up to 2009, when as many as 88 persons were killed by police as compared to five in 2001.

According to statistics provided by police at the sedition trial of Hindraf chief P Uthayakumar earlier this week, there were a shocking 82 cases of fatal police shootings in 2008, followed by 88 such incidences in 2009.

Revealing the statistics today were Lawyers For Liberty (LFL), Suaram and opposition political party PKR, who pointed out that of the 279 persons shot dead, 21.8 percent (61 deaths) were ethnic Indians.

Malays and Chinese, on the other hand, made up 15 percent (42) and 18.6 (52) percent respectively.

Shooting deaths according to ethnicity

2000: Malays (4); Chinese (2) Indians (0)
2001: Malays (0); Chinese (1) Indians (3)
2002: Malays (6); Chinese (12); Indians (6)
2003: Malays (2); Chinese (4); Indians (7)
2004: Malays (2); Chinese (7); Indians (1)
2005: Malays (1); Chinese (4); Indians (4)
2006: Malays (2); Chinese (0); Indians (3)
2007: Malays (3); Chinese (4); Indians (4)
2008: Malays (7); Chinese (9); Indians (11)
2009: Malays (15); Chinese (9); Indians (23)

Total: Malays (42); Chinese (52); Indians (61)

A culture of impunity

Included in the statistics issued by the police on Nov 29 were Vikines Vesuanathan shot dead in 2003 in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan; Muhamad Nir Oth (sic) killed three years later in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur; and Mohd Arifudin Mohamad who was shot dead in Kuantan, Pahang, two years ago and Rames Raman killed in 2008 in Kulim, Kedah.

They were all 19 years old. Several more were listed as having been killed at the age of 20.

In 2009, furthermore, Lobanarthan Gobi was 17 when he was killed together with 18-year old Vissvalingam Mookayah Devar in Klang.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 n surendranAmong the more recent fatalities are the fatal shootings in April 26 of 14-year-old Aminulrasyid Amzah, and of Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 16, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22, on Nov 13 in Shah Alam.

Pinning the blame squarely on the police and the Home Ministry for the tragic deaths of these youths, LFL member N Surendran (right) said the only reason these yet unaccounted for killings have occurred – and many more will occur – is the unwillingness of the authorities to deal with the culture of impunity and ‘trigger-happy’ elements in the police force.

Wording it more bluntly, Surendran said: “Aminulrasyid was seven years old and in primary school, when Vikines was killed in 2003. If the authorities had taken action to prevent these extrajudicial killings since then, Aminulrasyid might be alive today.

“If they don’t put a stop to these killings happening now, children who are in kindergarten this year may in just a few years down the road end up dead from being shot by police,” the lawyer added.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 fadiah nadwa fikriSurendran was speaking to reporters after a press conference on the issue with Suaram coordinator Lucas Yap Heng Lung, PKR’s Subang MP R Sivarasa and LFL member Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (right) at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

Almost half killed were foreigners

Also revealed by the rights groups today was the large number of foreign nationals shot dead by police, whose cases rarely see the light of day in newspaper reports, if at all their identities are made known.

Almost half of those killed by the police in the last decade were foreign nationals – a total 121 or 43 percent.

Of these, slightly more than 40 percent (113) were Indonesians. The largest number of such fatalities took place in 2008 when 54 Indonesians (up from two in 2007) were killed by the police.

Unlike the case with the Malaysians, the majority of the Indonesians killed, or about 60 percent, were not properly identified other than by their nationality. Those unidentified are without names and age.

“In short, human beings are being shot, being bundled up, and buried somewhere without even their identities being discovered. This shows that what has taken root in the police force is lawlessness,” said Surendran.

Other nationalities who have suffered the same fate over the last 10 years, according to the statistics, are Vietnamese (5), Filipinos (1), Thai (1), and 1 African (categorised as ‘Negro’ in the police statistics).

Need to set up IPCMC now

Comparing the numbers to the incidence of police shootings in other countries, Sivarasa said the lack of an independent body in Malaysia to investigate complaints against the police and police misconduct have resulted in the rot.

In New Zealand, for example, that has a population of four million, there had been only 22 persons killed in police shootings over 70 years since 1941, said Sivarasa.

In UK, that has almost twice the population of Malaysia, there have been 48 deaths from police shootings over a period of 22 years, between 1985-2007, he added.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 r sivarasahSivarasa (left) said the issue stems from the culture of impunity that has set into the police institution whereby a shoot-to-kill policy appears to have the consent, if not encouragement, of the upper levels of the force as well as the ruling politicians.

“This means that the police officers on the ground feel they can do whatever they want because they know they will not be held to account. Shoot, kill, and there will be no questions, no probe, so they continue.

“The inspector-general of police, the people responsible for the PDRM, will not raise these issues, and the politicians in charge – the home minister – will also not question them,” lamented the PKR leader.

NONEHe was referring to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s (right) denial that there had been a surge in police shooting fatalities when asked about it earlier this week.

On the lack of transparency on the issue, Sivarasa noted that the statistics were released by deputy director of the Criminal Investigations Department Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani at Uthayakumar’s trial only after constant pressure from the latter’s lawyers and a directive from the court itself.

Sivarasa said he and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition will be raising the issue and will step up pressure on the government to put in place the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), that was recommended by a royal commission in 2005.

news source: malaysiakini (4 Dec 2010)

Memorandum of protest to the IGP on the arrest and detention of inquest witness K.Selvach Santhiran

Bukit Aman, 30 October 2010

Introduction

The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the 25 October beating and abduction of K. Selvach Santhiran by men in plainclothes claiming to be police personnel who did not properly identify themselves. Selvach was one of the key witnesses who testified against the police in the recently concluded R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest.

On the very day the verdict was delivered in the inquest, the police moved against Selvach and came to his home to arrest him. When Selvach’s children asked the police why their father was being dragged away, the police answered by beating Selvach in front of his own children. In a twisted perversion of conjugal love, the police tried to make Selvach’s wife S.Saraswathy kiss him before beating him up in front of her.

Selvach, who did his duty as an upright citizen by telling the truth at the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest, is now being held at an unknown location with no access to his family or lawyers despite several efforts to meet him or ascertain his whereabouts.

It is believed that he is being detained without trial under the draconian Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 or the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 that allow the police to detain a person for 60 days with no recourse to judicial safeguard and thereafter 2 years’ detention on the order of the Home Minister.

Our Protest

Whilst we understand that the police have an important and onerous job to prevent and combat crime, the police must understand that the wide powers of arrest and detention cannot be abused and used arbitrarily. As a professional police force, they should be guided by the law and legal processes in the country and not act with impunity and complete disregard for constitutional and judicial safeguards.

This is unfortunately symptomatic of the police’s inability to act professionally as a police force that can work within a modern criminal justice system and not resort to preventive measures that do not require any real police work and diligence. The police should instead strive to be a modern and professional force that conform to international standards and best practices and not regress to wrongful practices that have caused the public to lose so much confidence with the police force.

The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the general arrogance and lack of respect for the Federal Constitution, the rule of law and other legal procedures. This is not an isolated incident but a continuation of a long standing series of acts by the police that showed their contempt for the rights of the people that have resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality, torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, shooting, custodial violence and death.

The arrest and detention of Selvach is gravely aggravated by the fact that he was arrested on the same day – after the outrageous and scandalous “open verdict” delivered by Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin in the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest. Selvach was one of three persons who were in police custody with R.Gunasegaran and they have consistently identified Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal as having physically assaulted the deceased. They did so despite threats to their safety by the police and despite the inducement that their cooperation would secure their immediate release.

It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvach was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified accusations under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It goes without saying that whistleblowers should be protected by the administration of law rather than punished by law enforcement officers. This is a blatant abuse of police power and a serious criminal act that can be prosecuted under the Penal Code and may further be subjected to contempt of court proceedings. Further, these actions point to police retaliation and clearly intended to intimidate those who speak up against injustices or wrongdoings perpetrated by members of the police force.

Uncivilised and unjust laws like the DDA and EO have no place in a modern and democratic state like Malaysia. These oppressive laws and methods violate the constitutional and human rights of the people and are contemptuous of the judicial authority and the legal process. The Malaysian Bar and civil society have forcefully and repeatedly called for the repeal of all preventive detention laws and for such arbitrary arrests and re-arrests to cease.

The police cannot be permitted to continue to operate in an environment of impunity but as this tragic episode has explicitly illustrated, the police has just sent a strong message that they can act as they please with no regard to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct.

Our Demands

The Inspector General of Police must:

a) release Selvach immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;

b) take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Selvach;

c) support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;

d) stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;

e) undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;

f) require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;

g) support human rights education and training programmes, with a view to changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Submitted by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) on behalf of the family of K. Selvach Santhiran

Death in custody perpetrator freed while witness to crime is victimised

Press Statement: 27 October 2010

SUARAM condemns the police beating and arrest of K. Selvachandran, a witness in R. Gunasegaran’s death in custody inquest. He had testified during the inquest that he saw Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib assaulted Gunasegaran before the suspect collapsed and died. On 25 October, the coroner’s court gave an “open verdict” into R Gunasegaran’s inquest because the cause of his death while in police custody could not be conclusively proven.

On the same day, K. Selvachandran was arrested at his home around 10pm by 5 plainclothes police officers and beaten up in front of his wife and children before he was taken away to the KL police contingent headquarters. The officers told Selvachandran’s wife, S. Saraswathy that he would be detained for 60 days, and may be extended to an additional 2 years. It should be noted that only 3 laws allow for such a long period of detention, namely the Internal Security Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) and the Emergency Ordinance.

SUARAM is extremely concerned with the arrest and detention of Selvachandran – as the police seemed to be sending a strong message that they can act with impunity with no regards to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct. It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvachandran was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified charges under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It is a blatant abuse of police power that points to police retaliation

SUARAM demands for the immediate release of Selvachandran and calls for Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar to walk the talk of his 4P (Proactive, Protective, Performance-oriented and People-oriented) plan by first curbing the culture of lawlessness and abuse of power in the police force as exemplified in the death of Gunasegaran and detention without trial of Selvachandran.

The IGP must ensure that police officers adhere to the laws and procedures that govern the arrest and detention of suspects, and they cannot act as they pleased to retaliate against a witness who testified against them. What message is being sent to other potential witnesses other than a strong warning not to testify against the police?

SUARAM also calls for the implementation of the IPCMC as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Police in 2005 to hold the police accountable over abuse of power and human rights as clearly proven time and time again; the police cannot be relied upon to investigate themselves.

Released by,

Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar

Coordinator