Suhakam urges Putrajaya to ratify UN treaty on enforced disappearances

The families of pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Chet 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 social activist Amri Chet 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, Aug 30 — It is time that Malaysia ratifies the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), its Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today.

The national body acknowledged the Pakatan Harapan government’s efforts to address past lapses on human rights issues, including the highly publicised disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Chet Mat, and said ratifying the UN treaty would help prove its commitment to the issue.

“The Commission believes that to effectively address an issue, it is important to first acknowledge that it exists. 

“Suhakam believes that the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) will not only ensure that legal recognition and remedies are put in place for victims of enforced disappearances, but also that it will signal a commitment that enforced disappearance is unacceptable in Malaysia,” Suhakam said in a statement to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. 

It pointed out that there is no official data on cases of enforced disappearances in Malaysia as past cases were often just treated as that of missing persons, abductions or kidnapping.

It further noted the absence of laws and regulations regarding the treatment of such cases. 

Suhakam noted that the government has also yet to release the terms of reference in the special task force led by former High Court judge Datuk Abd Rahim Uda into Koh and Amri’s enforced disappearances. 

“Suhakam is observing the progress of this investigation closely,” it said.

Koh, an evangelical church pastor, was last seen on February 13, 2017 by witnesses who saw him being captured by persons unknown from his car at an intersection in Kelana Jaya, Selangor. Amri who was last seen on November 24, 2016 had been alleged to be a follower of Shiah, another Islamic denomination from the official Sunni school accepted in Malaysia, which has been denied by his wife Norhayati Ariffin.

Suhakam had conducted an 18-month inquiry into the missing Koh and Amri and released a damning report in April that found both men to be victims of enforced disappearances — a term that strongly suggests the involvement of state agents.

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