KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Several groups today expressed their objection and concern with regards to the line-up of the government’s task force meant to investigate the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.
The key concern among some NGOs is that there could be a conflict of interest, as not all members of the task force can be impartial, with some having worked with the police when the enforced disappearances occurred.
Eliminating Death and Abuse in Custody (EDICT) chairman M. Visvanathan questioned the composition of the six-man task force, namely the participation of Bukit Aman former legal department head, Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor, which he claimed could be an interested party and cited a conflict of interest.
“Secondly, we object to the composition of the ‘task force’ members themselves as it clearly shows it is not filled with members who can be neutral and does not have an interest.
“As the government appointed Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor, who previously acted as the head of the PDRM legal unit, it does not reflect the public's confidence that a transparent investigation can be conducted,’’ he said, stating further these factors does not reflect the government's seriousness in finding the real culprits involved.
Visvanathan also pointed out that the police’s legal department had failed to conduct thorough investigations into the case and did not cooperate fully with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
He also said that the task force lacks legal jurisdiction to pursue the investigations as per the report that was produced by Suhakam in April that pointed out state agents, namely the Police Special Branch, were directly involved in the case.
“First of all, EDICT questions under which law was the ‘task force’ set up to investigate the decisions made by Suhakam. Suhakam is an entity that was established based on the Suhakam Act 1999 and questions arise here whether any decision made by the body can be investigated through the formation of the ‘task force’ that has been done now,’’ he said.
In a separate statement, Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), which consists of several NGOs, said that the current composition of the task force was unacceptable, and would only further deny justice for the victims of enforced disappearance.
“This will only serve to further the suspicions and accusations of government complicity in the disappearance of these individuals,” they said.
“The revised task force membership should take into account the views of the affected families and various civil society organizations that have been following this case closel” GBM added.
Former High Court judge Datuk Abd Rahim Uda has been tasked to lead the special task force in the investigations.
Apart from Rahim and Mokhtar, other members also include Datuk Zamri Yahya (Police Integrity and Standard Compliance Department Director), Datuk Muhammad Bukhari Ab. Hamid (Director of Operations for the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission) and Mohd Russaini Idrus (Division Secretary for the Police Commission).