Malaysian Bar: Task force into disappearances must be impartial, independent

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

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — The Malaysian Bar has stressed the importance of the special task force (STF) probing the enforced disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat being independent and impartial.

Its president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the STF must consist of independent investigators and should any conflict of interest arise for any given person on it, they ought not to be appointed.

“Regard must be had to persons who have no current or past connections with the criminal investigations conducted into the enforced disappearance cases or with any current or past member of the authorities involved therein,” he said in a statement.

Abdul Fareed said that if a STF member with a conflict of interest continues to be involved, any findings made would be inadvertently tainted in the public’s eye, with its deliberations questionable and lacking credibility.

“On this note therefore, we welcome the recent appointments of Azian Umar from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Datuk Roger Tan Kor Mee, who is a member of the Bar Council and the Malaysian Bar, to the STF.

“The Malaysian Bar also welcomes and commends the decision of former police legal unit chief Datuk Moktar Mohd Noor in withdrawing from the STF. This is a step towards restoring public trust in the STF, which must demonstrate its commitment in getting to the bottom of the enforced disappearance cases and to leave no stone unturned in fulfilling its mandate,” he said.

Abdul Fareed also urged for the STF’s terms of reference to be made available to the public, as it does not appear to be in the public domain.

“Justice must be meted out and the perpetrators made to account for their actions. Only concrete and clear action will alleviate public fear and anxiety, instil confidence in the safety and security of this country and its people, and gradually restore the stature and standing of the police force,” he said.

Azian and Tan’s appointment to the task force was announced by the Home Ministry yesterday, a week after Mokhtar withdrew due to perceived conflict of interest and the objections of Koh and Amri’s families.

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