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As Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), we commemorate all victims and survivors of torture. Despite Malaysia’s unwavering condemnation of genocide and use of torture in the Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories, we are ironically among the few countries worldwide that has yet to internationally commit to zero tolerance against torture. SUARAM thus demands that the Malaysian government live up to international standards to which we hold other governments accountable – by ratifying UNCAT now. 

Torture in custody is still a recurring issue within Malaysia, with obstructed access to justice a widespread reality for victims, survivors and their families. Based on SUARAM’s past and current cases, the majority of victims and survivors are still denied independent and impartial investigations by the state into their ordeals, even years after having endured torture at the hands of law enforcement. This also mercilessly applies to youth in conflict with the law, namely 16-year-old Ang Kian Kok in 2017 who was also an eyewitness to Balamurugan’s death in police custody, and 18-year-old Mitheswaran a/l Kumar in 2021. Despite intervention by the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the government has neither punished the perpetrators involved nor provided reparations to these boys. 

Ignoring these past and ongoing injustices is unbefitting for a government that has extensively preached MADANI values and tooted their own horn about the commitment to accountability. As we reiterate our call to the government to explicitly commit to ratify UNCAT during the Universal Periodic Review Outcome Report adoption session next week, we also demand that zero tolerance against torture be concretised by: 

  • Investigations of past and ongoing cases of torture in custody, with unhindered access to reparation and rehabilitation for victims and survivors; 

  • Full implementation of the Mendez Principles on Effective Interviewing, which offer guidance on information gathering during criminal investigations whilst protecting human rights, and; 

  • Alignment of domestic legislations and policies, including the Federal Constitution, with UNCAT to effectively prohibit torture and create positive environments that reinforce accountable administration of justice 

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