Human rights groups express concerns over delay in tabling IPCMC Bill

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the reading of the IPCMC Bill needed to be postponed to enable it to be improved. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the reading of the IPCMC Bill needed to be postponed to enable it to be improved. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Several civil society organisations are concerned at the sudden announcement by the government yesterday that the second reading of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill would be postponed to next year.

The group, in a statement, said they hoped the delay was not due to inordinate pressure against the Bill, especially since the police have expressed concerns over the commission having disciplinary powers over them.

“In our view, the formation of the IPCMC is one of the most important reforms in new Malaysia. The need for an independent oversight body focused on improving professional standards of the police and ensuring accountability for any alleged misconduct is a long-standing issue and cannot be put off any longer,” the statement read.

“Despite the formation of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) 10 years ago, unfortunately, there are still regular reports of alleged police brutality, questionable police shootings and deaths in custody and outright corruption. Importantly, the EAIC does not have the power to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the police, despite findings of misconduct.

“We have thus seen cases where the EAIC has found serious misconduct such as tampering with diary entries and making false police reports by police officers, but have not seen any corresponding disciplinary action by the police.”

The IPCMC Bill 2019 was tabled for the first reading in the last Dewan Rakyat session in July but the Bill was referred to the Special Select Committee for further discussion when it came up for its second reading last October.

The IPCMC seeks to replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission in efforts to enhance the integrity and capabilities of the police force and will act as an independent monitoring body to receive complaints and conduct investigations into misconduct involving police personnel.

However, yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the reading of the Bill needed to be postponed to enable it to be improved.

He said the move to refine the Bill was necessary to facilitate the implementation of the law when it was passed and to avoid any unwanted issues from arising.

“We hope that the delay is indeed to fine-tune the bill and not due to inordinate pressure against the Bill,” the statement continued.

“We note that the police have concerns regarding the commission having disciplinary powers over them. We would like to point out however, that these powers will be exercised not by the Commission directly, but by separate disciplinary boards that will consist of commission members, a representative from the police force and a representative from the Police Force Commission.

“We hope that the government will remain true to its manifesto promise to establish the IPCMC without delay and we remain committed to engaging with them and supporting this effort wherever we can.”

The statement was signed by Suara Rakyat Malaysia, Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, Justice for Sisters, Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity, Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism and National Human Rights Society.

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