Press Statement: 18 July 2013
2013 Custodial Deaths List- Will this ever ends?
SUARAM once again is publicizing the list of deaths under state custody for the year 2013.
Year Date Name Age Location
2013 14-Jan-13 Chang Chin Te 30 USJ8
2013 23-Jan-13 Sugumaran 39 Batu 14 Cheras
2013 01-Feb-13 Mohd.Ropi 43 Temerloh, Died at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Hospital
2013 10-Mar-13 M.Ragu 47 Kampar
2013 17-Mar-13 UNKNOWN 55 Seri Alam Johor
2013 3-April-13 Muhammad Kusyairi 25 Hospital Pulau Pinang
2013 21-May-13 Dharmendran 32 IPK KL
2013 27-May-13 Jamesh Ramesh 40 Penang
2013 01-Jun-13 Karunanithi 42 IPD Tampin
2013 8-Jun-2013 Nobuhiro Matshushita 33 USJ8
2013 4-July-2013 Cheong Fook Meng 53 Jalan Imbi
2013 16-July-2013 Chew Shiang Giap 26 Pusat Pemulihan Akhlak Batu Gajah
Three people have now died in police custody on the same date, the 16 of July. The first two were Teoh Beng Hock and Gunasegaran back in 2009 and now we have the latest case of Chew Siang Giap who was also found dead in the Batu Gajah prison rehabilitation centre on 16 July 2013. His death has once again has sparked public outrage against the increasing number of custodial deaths in the country.
SUARAM calls on the police to ensure accountability for the so-called “sudden deaths” of the individuals name above who were healthy before they were apprehended but lost their lives while under the responsibility of the police.
The right to life is guaranteed in Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However the cases above highlight how personnel from the Royal Police of Malaysia seem to have a lack of respect for this fundamental right and the value of human life.
The police force and the judiciary tend to respond swiftly to other cases of murder but continue to fail to take similar steps in cases of deaths under police custody of innocent victims. This sends a chilling message to the public that these deaths do not count and that police personnel can operate above the law with impunity in this country. SUARAM calls on the authorities to ensure an independent and impartial investigation into all these cases and to make the findings public.
From the list above, only 3 police officers have been charged for the death of N. Dharmendran only after public pressure and outcry while one of them went missing. On the case of Karunanithi, who died in Tampin in June, till today no officers have been charged despite the fact that the post-mortem and video shows evidence of bruises and injuries on his body.
Now in this latest case of Chew Siang Giap, his father has also found bruises on the ears, shoulder and thigh of the deceased body. It is unacceptable that Chew Siang Giap’s family has to plead for an independent investigation to be made in order for the perpetrators to be held to account. Why can’t the police be proactive in investigating this death in custody? Further the EAIC has also been silent on the matter and has yet to initiate any investigation which is within their powers.
SUARAM calls for the setting up of an independent oversight mechanism to make sure the Royal Police of Malaysia respects human rights and performs its duties in accordance to the law. The Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has been the ongoing call from civil society groups since it was first proposed by the Royal Police Commission back in 2005.
SUARAM wants an end to these serious human rights violations. The public wants an independent body to probe these deaths in custody and hold the perpetrators to account. The failure to ensure effective police accountability mechanisms highlights the lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police in this country.