Time to Act against Torture in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR – We, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM), SUARAM, Bar Council, and Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), call on the Malaysian Government to demonstrate its commitment to combat and prevent torture and inhuman degrading treatment by accessing to the United Nations Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).

The UNCAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and entered into force on 26 June 1987. Malaysia is among the 27 UN Member States that have not acceded to this 30-year old human rights instrument which provides global measures for the protection of freedom from torture.

As a coalition that has been campaigning for the Malaysia’s ratification of the UNCAT since 2015, we deem it important for Malaysia to become a Party to this Convention which, in effect asserts the responsibility of the Government and its agents including enforcement authorities to comply with the provisions embodied in the Convention and to protect people against torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

We are particularly concerned with the incidents of death in police custody in Malaysia particularly those that were attributed to authority’s negligence and misconduct. These included the deaths of A. Kugan, N. Dhamendran, C. Sugumar, P. Chandran, and Karuna Nithi, Syed Mohd Azlan B. Syed Mohamed Nur, and a recent case S. Balamurugan – all of which have become a matter of public concern and scrutiny. These unfortunate incidents also indicate the possibility of systemic problems in managing and handling detainees in police lock-ups.

The right to life, liberty and security is the fundamental right that all individuals are entitled to, as enshrined in Article 3 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia further guarantees the right to life and liberty of a person. We firmly believe that these rights are significant particularly to those in detention as they are subject to restriction and are open to the possible risk of being torture and ill-treated.

We echo the recent call made by four international experts on torture in calling upon States to move away from confession-based criminal justice systems as an essential step to prevent torture and ill-treatment, as well as to adopt effective, ethical, and non-coercive techniques in conducting investigations and interviewing all persons, including suspects, victims, and witnesses.

We believe that, in achieving a torture-free nation, one of the key steps that should be taken by the Government is to accede to the Convention which requires State Parties to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture or other form of ill-treatment.


Joint Press Statement by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia, Bar Council Malaysia, Suara Rakyat Malaysia and Lawyers for Liberty in Conjunction with the International Day In Support of Victims of Torture

KUALA LUMPUR (27 June 2016) – Nearly two decades ago on 12 December 1997, the United Nations General Assembly saw it fit to proclaim 26 June as the annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Torture, including abuse and ill-treatment at the hands of the state, had become a matter of grave international concern. The UN looked to governments for more effective measures to fight against torture through the adoption of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, referred to as the UN Convention against Torture (UN CAT).
On 26 June 2015, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Bar CouncilMalaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia, Lawyers for Liberty and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) embarked on the #ACT4CAT Campaign with the objective of advocating for Malaysia’s accession to UN CAT and promoting greater understanding and appreciation of the need to prevent and eliminate all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the country.
In conjunction with the first anniversary of the #ACT4CAT Campaign, we, partners of the Campaign, renew our commitment to undertake concerted efforts towards achieving the goal of the Campaign, and call upon the Government of Malaysia to:
1. Accede to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and
2. Take the necessary legislative, policy and administrative measures to ensure the effective prevention of any practice that could lead to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
Bar Council Malaysia
Amnesty International Malaysia
Lawyers for Liberty

Comments from United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), Regional Office for South-East Asia

‪#‎Malaysia‬: We are seriously concerned by allegations of torture and degrading treatment of seven individuals charged with suspected terrorism under the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

We call on the authorities to urgently conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into these allegations. We also urge the Malaysian Government to sign and ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).

In the wake of the attacks in Jakarta last week and the bombing in Bangkok last summer, which have stoked fears across the region, we urge all governments to ensure human rights are protected in their efforts to counter terrorism.

As stated by High Commissioner Zeid earlier this week, the rise of violent extremism and extremist thinking has greatly affected the way in which governments approach human rights. Regrettably repressive measures can actually produce more extremist thinking and unless the governments’ policies support a human rights agenda, extremist ideologies will be reinforced.

Original post can be found here.