Suhakam inquiry on Koh, Amri enforces need to uphold human rights, says Council of Churches

The families of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into their disappearances in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The families of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into their disappearances in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) inquiry and findings into the disappearance of a pastor and an activist are a vindication of the need for human rights to be at the forefront of law and order in the country, said the Council of Churches of Malaysia.

The council said in a statement that it was thankful to Suhakam for conducting the inquiry in the absence of an impartial and serious investigation which the police should have carried out as part of their duty to uphold the law in the country.

It urged the government to pay heed to Suhakam’s recommendations to launch an independent investigation into the “enforced disappearances” of pastor Raymond Koh and activists Amri Che Mat, whom it said were social workers targeted by various state actors for religious reasons prior to their disappearance.

“Provide remedies to the families of Raymond and Amri, especially their right to know the truth about the fate and whereabouts of these two men,” it said.

It added that the government should take immediate steps to clarify and separate the jurisdiction of the religious authorities from the police, and respect freedom of religion as a fundamental human right.

It also urged the government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The council pointed out that the Pakatan Harapan government in its election manifesto last year had promised that the country will uphold the rule of law, and that all citizens will be treated equal before the law.

“We call upon the prime minister to deliver on this promise and bring closure to this matter so that the families affected will find the justice they have been seeking for many years,” the council said.

Yesterday, Suhakam announced its conclusion that the police Special Branch was behind the “enforced disappearance” of Koh and Amri in 2017 and 2016 respectively, after a near two-year public inquiry into their abductions.

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