Sunday, June 9, 2013
The demand for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) now has “international relevance”, Lim Guan Eng said today, pointing to the latest lock-up death involving a Japanese detainee - the fourth in two weeks.
The DAP secretary-general said the prevalence of such deaths, regardless whether they were not at the hands of the police, has tarnished Malaysia’s international reputation and smeared the image of the police force.
“How many more must die before the tragedy of custodial deaths are stopped?” Lim said in a statement here.
“Only the establishment of the IPCMC can prevent needless custodial deaths and it would be very sad that a Japanese detainee must die in police custody before moving the BN federal government to act,” he added.
The Penang Chief Minister added that the public would continue to stay suspicious at the police and their interrogation methods unless they are not only assured to be clean but are also “seen to be clean”.
In the latest tragedy behind bars, Nobuhiro Matsushita, 33, was found dead at 4am yesterday in his cell at the USJ8 police station lock-up.
Police said the Japanese man, who was arrested for whipping out a knife at an auxiliary policeman after trespassing into a university on June 2, was found hanged at the grille of the cell, presumably at his own hands.
“An autopsy report issued by the University Malaya Medical Centre found that the suspect died as a result of hanging and that there were no injuries on his body.
“Initial police investigations also confirmed that no foul play resulted in his death,” Selangor deputy police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama.
Matsushita joins the growing list of custodial deaths - nine in the past five months so far - that has triggered public outroar and revived calls for the IPCMC to check police abuse.
In a recent controversial case, a government hospital autopsy report revealed that 32-year-old detainee N. Dharmendran had died as a result of multiple beatings.
On Wednesday, three of the four police officers who allegedly caused Dhamendran’s death were charged with murder under section 302 of the Penal Code. A fourth accused is still at large.
A United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 2010 visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres reported in 2011 that between 2003 and 2007, “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities.”
The Malaysian Bar, civil society groups and several politicians from both sides of the divide have called for the IPCMC to be implemented to reform the police force since 2006.
The IPCMC, which was mooted by a royal commission chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah but shot down by the police, was to be modeled on the United Kingdom’s Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as well as other police oversight bodies in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia, and Hong Kong.
“The number of custodial deaths since 2000 is 219, a shocking figure that is sure to rise without any safeguards and preventive mechanism such as the IPCMC,” Lim said.
“There is no reason why the BN Federal government refuses such oversight of the police when it is recommended in 2005 by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police,” he added.