Saturday, June 1, 2013
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was chided today for doling out preferential treatment to police officers suspected of having a hand in lock-up deaths instead of prioritising justice for the families of the victims, which an opposition MP warned served only to demoralise the public further towards law enforcement.
The DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo (picture) censured the home minister for getting his priorities reversed, highlighting the latter’s reported remark that action against policemen linked to custodial deaths “must be done delicately to avoid demoralising the police force”. “With respect, this is utter nonsense,” the Puchong MP said in a statement, adding that such treatment “proves yet again what we have been saying in the past which is that the government practises double standards when it comes to deaths in custody.”
He reminded the minister that the impact such of such deaths on the families of the victims and the public took precedence, asking: “What about them being demoralised when repeatedly people die in police custody and there is just a total lack of spirit and urgency in taking action against the officers concerned?”
Gobind denounced Ahmad Zahid for the minister’s seemingly callous remark, which the criminal lawyer said proved the Najib administration was practising double standards in enforcing the law.
“With that, we now understand perhaps why it is that no serious efforts have been taken until now to solve the problem or to implement the IPCMC and why perhaps this will never happen,” he said, of the 2005 proposal by a royal panel for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
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 modelled 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.
N. Dharmendran, 32, who died on May 21 while under remand at the city police contingent headquarters here, is the latest in a growing number of alleged police killings since 2000.
A hospital autopsy report on Dharmendran revealed today said he had died as a result of multiple beatings.
According to rights group Suaram, there were 218 cases of deaths in custody in Malaysia from 2000 to this month, with its records showing that nine of those cases occurred in 2012, while five cases took place this year.
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.