Putrajaya given a month to act on ‘enforced disappearance’ before lawsuit lands

lawyer Andy Yong (right) and citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) spokesman Rama Ramanathan at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2019.¬ — Picture by Ahmad zamzahuri
lawyer Andy Yong (right) and citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) spokesman Rama Ramanathan at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2019.¬ — Picture by Ahmad zamzahuri

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PETALING JAYA, April 6 — A group of lawyers and a citizens group made three demands of the federal government today over the “enforced disappearance” of two Malaysians, saying they will sue if these are not honoured within a month.

Speaking at a press conference today, lawyer Andy Yong who represented the group said the government must form a special task force to investigate the enforced disappearance and explain the police Special Branch’s alleged involvement.

They also demanded compensation for the families pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat, whose abductions the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) concluded to be the result of “enforced” disappearance”.

“We intend to take legal action against the government to seek judicial redress on the basis of natural justice and declaratory relief.

“Our intention is to have a judicial redress. Ever since two days ago, on the outcome of the Suhakam inquiries, it shows that as we all know the Special Branch (of police) was involved.

“Hence we believe that the government is responsible for this disappearance or missing of these two persons,” Yong said.

The eight lawyers will be joined by the Citizens Against Enforced Disappearance (Caged) group in the potential lawsuit.

However, Yong said they have not approached the victims’ families but will do so to see if they would join in the lawsuit to claim tortious liability against the government of the day.

While acknowledging the incidents occurred under the previous administration, Yong said it was only possible to sue the government of the day.

Yong said they would name as respondents the federal government, the inspector-general of police, and the Home Ministry, in accordance with the Government Proceedings Act.

When asked if they would file a police report on Suhakam’s findings, the lawyer said the families already did so two years ago to no avail.

He also pointed out that there were purported attempts to cover up the identities of the alleged Special Branch agents involved in the abduction.

IGP Tan Sri Mohd Fuzi Harun was the head of the Special Branch at the time of the enforced disappearance in 2016 and 2017.

Despite the connection, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Fuzi need not take a leave of absence ahead of his retirement this May as his successor could investigate later.

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