At memorial to commemorate custodial death victims, calls for IPCMC resound

People hold placards during the Malaysia's Custodial Death Black Thursday organised by Eliminating Death & Abuse In Custody Together at the Klang River in Kuala Lumpur July 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People hold placards during the Malaysia's Custodial Death Black Thursday organised by Eliminating Death & Abuse In Custody Together at the Klang River in Kuala Lumpur July 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Lawyers and human rights advocates reiterated tonight a call for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) during an annual event to remember those who died in custody of Malaysian authorities.

Called “Malaysia’s Custodial Death Black Thursday” and jointly organised by the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International and a local movement, Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody (Edict), the memorial took place near the Malaysian Bar headquarters here amid heavy police presence.

“We are here today not for fun, but we are concerned. Why are we concerned is because how do you feel living in a country where every month, somebody is dead in police custody?

“This year is 2020. The IPCMC idea, model was mooted way back in 2005. It was a proposed set-up by a Royal Commission of Inquiry to enhance the operation and management of the Malaysian police,” said the Malaysian Bar’s human rights committee chairman Datuk Roger Chan.

He said the government continued to demur on the set-up of the IPCMC even after 15 long years. 

“We asked for the IPCMC and what did you give us? You gave us the EAIC and nothing came out of that,” he added, referring to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission that was created by an Act of Parliament in 2009. 

Malaysian Bar’s human rights committee chairman Datuk Roger Chan speak to Malay Mail at the Malaysia's Custodial Death Black Thursday gathering in Kuala Lumpur July 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Malaysian Bar’s human rights committee chairman Datuk Roger Chan speak to Malay Mail at the Malaysia's Custodial Death Black Thursday gathering in Kuala Lumpur July 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Chan called on the government to show it has the political will and “consciousness” to do what is right. 

Edict spokesman M. Visvanathan said a specific oversight body on the police was needed and recounted his experience as a lawyer in the case of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed who died six years ago in Johor Baru. 

Three police officers were charged over Syed Mohd Azlan’s death, but were subsequently freed. 

“In the case of Syed Mohd Azlan in Johor Baru, one of the policemen was charged in court for causing death under Section 304 [of the Penal Code], and this case was ongoing, and the civil case was also ongoing. 

“What did RMP do? The RMP gave him a promotion. From an inspector to assistant superintendent of police. This was recorded in court. It was a testimony in court and I’m not saying things whimsically,” Visvanathan said, referring to the Royal Malaysia Police.

He added that the suspect who was promoted was also transferred back to his hometown.

“So what is the message given to those accused of being involved in causing custodial deaths?” he asked.

“Secondly, IPCMC must be formed. Thirdly, the Section 8 of the Civil Act 1956 must be amended to provide exemplary damages to families of the deceased,” Visvanathan added.

Another Edict spokesman Yohendra Nadarajan hopes for the day when Malaysia will have no more custodial deaths.

“Rightfully, nobody should be dying while in detention.

“Therefore, we hope that the authorities are more concerned about issues like these and hope that there will be zero deaths in custody. That is our aim,” added Yohendra who is also a lawyer.

At the end of the event, participants threw flowers into the nearby Klang River in memory of those who died in detention.

Visvanathan told Malay Mail earlier that he received a letter from the Dang Wangi district police chief (OCPD) yesterday telling him that the event was not allowed.

“Late evening yesterday, we received the letter from the OCPD saying there is no consent from DBKL and NSC,” Visvanathan said, referring to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the National Security Council.

Edict said police had claimed that the notice submitted for the event in accordance with the Public Assembly Act 2012 was incomplete because it was not accompanied by a consent notice from DBKL, which is named as the custodian of the area where the event took place.

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