KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has disputed the data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) on deaths in police custody in a parliamentary reply last week.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin’s parliamentary reply on Sept 15 stated that six custodial deaths occurred in the year to date until August whereas the group has observed at least seven cases.
“We are confused as to how the MoHA has recorded the amount of deaths in custody. This is because, based on the given answer, the stated amount does not include a number of deaths that are evidently instances of deaths in custody.
“The death of Sivabalan Subramaniam as soon as he was arrested by the police from IPD Gombak and the death of Umar Faruq who passed away in custody of IPD Klang Selatan, are examples of these missing cases,” he said in a statement today.
Sevan also questioned whether the definition used by MoHA differed from those used by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and in countries like the United Kingdom.
He mentioned that Suhakam in its 2016 report defined deaths in custody as deaths that occur during arrests by the police, deaths in police detention, and deaths wherein detainees die on the way to receiving medical treatment as well as when they die at a medical facility in cases where ward admission is necessary whilst still in police custody.
“Why were the deaths of Sivabalan, who clearly died in less than an hour after his arrest, as well as that of Umar Faruq, who died in IPD Klang Selatan, not considered as deaths in custody? Is it due to MoHA viewing solely deaths that occur in police lock-up as deaths in custody? If so, this is clearly in contradiction with the definition of deaths in custody as per multiple parties,
“Furthermore, the definition supplied by the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) United Kingdom defines deaths in and following police custody as deaths that occur whilst a person is arrested or brought to a detention facility, including the deaths of an arrested person or those that occur following an arrest,” he said adding that it also includes the death of a person from the moment of the arrest before being freed regardless of location.