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Thread: Police: Death of justice in police custody

  1. #1
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    Police: Death of justice in police custody

    Death of justice in police custody
    Jeswan Kaur | February 4, 2011

    Cases of people dying while under detention keep cropping up, leaving an indelible mark on Malaysia's human rights record.

    Suresh Kunasekaran, Samiyati Indrayani Zulkarnain Putra, A Kugan, M Krishnan and K Sivam – these five shared a common death: they all ended up dead while in police custody.

    They also shared something else in common – failed justice and blatant abuse of their rights as humans.

    When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak assumed the country’s leadership from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on April 3, 2009, he promised the rakyat that he would “uphold civil liberties” and exhibit “regard for the fundamental rights of the people”.

    Sadly or typical in politics, neither happened. Six years ago a royal commission report proposed the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) but in 2009 the government shot down the proposal, saying the IPCMC’s powers were “too broad” and unconstitutional.

    Meanwhile, cases of people dying after being detained by police keep happening. Statistics showed that between 2000 and February 2010, those who died while in detention were Malays (64), Chinese (30), Indians (28.) other races (eight) and foreigners (14).

    In Kugan’s case, the cop suspected of causing the former grievous hurt has been declared a free man by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court. Judge Aslam Zainuddin on Jan 28, 2010, set constable V Navindran free because the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case.

    Kugan, 23, was arrested in January 2009 in Puchong for allegedly stealing luxury cars. Barely days after, he was found dead inside the lock-up of the Taipan police station in USJ-Subang Jaya. A post-mortem declared his death as “fluid accumulation inside the lungs”. But eyewitnessess told a different story. They said the cop Navindran whacked Kugan with a rubber hose. A second post-mortem commissioned by Kugan’s family revealed that apart from being beaten, he had also been burnt and starved, all of which led to Kugan’s death.

    On Jan 3 this year, police arrested electrician Krishnan, 37, on a drug-related offence. Four days later, Krishnan was found dead inside the Bukit Jalil police cell, with a Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia post-mortem concluding he died from stomach ulcer. A preliminary report on the second autopsy conducted by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre concurred with the earlier finding.

    What made police so powerful?

    Krishnan’s wife rejected the preliminary report, insisting that her husband was beaten to death. She said there were photographs of bruises on Krishnan’s body as well as two eyewitness who saw everything. The lawyer for the family said they were awaiting official documents on the first and second post-mortems before deciding on the next course of action. The report is due for release on Feb 7.

    A week before Krishnan’s death, another death was recorded, this time at the Sentul police lock-up where Sivam, 43, was found dead. Samiyati, meanwhile, was found dead at the Wangsa Maju police station on Sept 12, 2006. Despite there being bruises on her body, Samiyati’s death was attributed to asthma.

    The question being asked by the rakyat is: what has made the police so “powerful” in determining who they want to kill or set free?

    In July last year, DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo demanded the Home Ministry clarify the cause of death behind the estimated 1,500 custodial deaths between 2003 and 2007.

    “From 2003 to 2007, why was there no action taken? Why is it that until now (the) minister is unable to give a report and details?

    “I call upon (Home Minister) Hishammuddin Hussein to respond and tell us how did these 1,500 people die? What has been done about their death?” asked Gobind.

    On June 23, Gobind had forwarded to Deputy Home Minister Wira Abu Seman Yusop a copy of a BBC report titled “Malaysia pressed by UN over detentions without trial”. The report, published on June 18, stated that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres found that between 2003 and 2007 “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities”.

    Gobind had said the deputy minister replied that there was no police report made and the ministry would only take action once a report is lodged.

    Truly, such indifference shown by the deputy home minister towards the lives of people only further eroded the rakyat’s confidence in the police.

    Basic rights denied

    Criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad had once pointed out that laws such as the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and subsidiary legislation such as the Lock-up Rules were designed to “uphold and ensure the basic rights of persons under arrest” as well as to regulate lock-up conditions. However, these have been enforced in such a way that the basic rights are denied.

    Section 28A (3) of the CPC stipulates that when an arrested person wishes to communicate with a “relative or friend to inform of his or her whereabouts” or “consult with a legal practitioner of his or her choice, the police officer should allow this “as soon as may be”.

    In reality, this provision under the law has been conveniently dismissed by the police. Why?

    The Royal Commission on Police report, released in May 2005, stated that between 2000 and 2004 only six out of the 80 deaths in custody were subject to inquests.

    The failure of the judicial system in delivering justice to Kugan’s family follows on the heels of Teoh Beng Hock, a former DAP political aide who was found dead on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, hours after he was interrogated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in the same premises.

    Teoh’s family rejected the possibility of suicide, suspecting foul play instead. Following a public outcry, Najib ordered an inquest into the death. But after 18 months of proceedings and with Teoh’s remains exhumed for a second post-mortem, the coroner delivered an open verdict, ruling out both suicide and homicide.

    Teoh’s sister, disappointed with the unjust verdict, demanded that a Royal Commission of Inquiry be set up to relook the cause of Teoh’s death. Najib has given the royal commission a three-month deadline.

    Najib, however, refused to select any one of the five nominees suggested by Teoh’s family as the commission panel. Names given included former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar and workers rights group Tenaganita founder Irene Fernandez.

    It is perplexing that Najib was not keen in all five names when all five are well known advocates in their respective fields. Would Najib care to answer why he refused to appoint even one of the names referred by Teoh’s family? Is it because the government wants to hide the truth one way or another? What happened to Najib’s cry of “people first, performance now”?

    Even DAP leader Lim Kit Siang was left wondering why Najib rejected the names suggested by Teoh’s family. Lim regretted that the prime minister failed to consult Teoh’s family although he had promised to meet them and the public on who best be appointed as commissioners.

    “It is no exaggeration to say that as a whole, the composition of the six members of the commission does not inspire full public confidence,” Lim had said.

    In Kugan’s case, his family might not be as “enlightened” as Teoh’s in terms of demanding that an inquiry be set up. But all the bruises on Kugan’s body confirmed their fears that he was severely abused while in detention. A Sivarasa, one of the lawyers representing Kugan’s family, has demanded that Attorney-General Gani Patail resign for failing to ensure that justice prevailed.

    Integrity of judicial system compromised

    The Session Court’s decision to allow constable Navindran to go free has once again proven the public right that the judicial system is no longer trustworthy. To them it is unbelievable that in spite of eyewitnessess confirming that the cop had whacked Kugan with a rubber hose, the court set the constable free.

    “The court’s excuse is the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case. It is unbelievable to what extent our judicial system can stoop so low. Setting the cop free has made a mockery of our country’s ability to mete out justice.

    “The other truth is that the Session Court’s decision has also tainted the integrity of Malaysia’s judicial system. In this country, justice is all about power and influence, not about punishing the wrong-doer. It is as if justice is dead in Malaysia,” an activist Manohara Subramaniam lamented to FMT.

    In October 2006, Amnesty International Malaysia (AI), disturbed over the custody death of Suresh, said its documented cases in the past revealed that relatives of those who died in police custody alleged that the police had obstructed the complaint process, suppressed evidence and even colluded with hospital officials and medical officers.

    AI had then called for amendments to the CPC to include best practices on preliminary investigations in cases of custodial deaths. This also included sealing a police station as a crime scene for an independent investigation, including temporary suspension of officers in charge of the lock-up. These procedures were deemed important in avoiding tampering of evidence and any possibility of conspiracy between people involved in the case.

    Another issue that AI believed needed urgent implementation was the installation and proper maintenance of closed-circuit televisions in all police stations, especially lock-ups and interrogation rooms with clear guidelines on how these recordings are kept safe.

    Incidences of deaths at the hands of the police have left an indelible mark as far as the manipulation of justice and abuse of human rights are concerned. Failed justice in such cases is seen as a humiliation in the face of Najib’s promises of putting the rakyat’s welfare first.

    In February 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council examined Malaysia under its Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Malaysia, however, rejected various recommendations by member states, including ratifications of core human rights treaties. FreeMalaysiaToday....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Harapkan Pagar, Pakar tak Boleh Diharap. Siapa melindung Rakyat daripada Pagar?

    UMNO will never dare to touch the UMNO War Machine. They depend on them to maintain UMNO in power. Classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

    PDRM: Cops or criminals?

    Jeswan Kaur | June 7, 2011

    Is the BN government's refusal to put the police force on a leash, a case of 'you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours'

    There is a Malay proverb, “harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” which can be taken to mean that a person who is entrusted with something often ends up betraying that trust. In today’s time, this saying best defines the Malaysian police force.

    Reneging on their responsibility as protectors, the cops by virtue of their own misgivings will have to clean up their act to redeem public faith and trust that has slipped off.

    Going by the many reports of police brutality, the latest reported by FMT on May 26, 2011, there is no doubt left that the people are having a tough time counting on the cops, for the cops seem to be making news, but for the wrong reasons.

    The bad news includes detaining people behind bars and whacking the daylights out of them, leaving them dead literally. Then there is the insensitivity and indifference shown by the police when it comes to handling complaints concerning violence against women, be it rape or domestic violence.

    On the issue of domestic violence, a young woman, Pakaim Subramaniam, died in February this year, just five months into her marriage. Her father, M Subramaniam, alleged that she was the victim of domestic violence due to the severe injuries she had sustained. He said the police failed to investigate the case, which then led him seek help from Suhakam, the country’s human rights commission.

    Meanwhile, the latest cop brutality reported by FMT involved a 20-year-old student, S Ganesan, who claimed that he was beaten up and verbally abused by the police after he knocked into a policeman’s motorcycle at a roadblock in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, in the early hours of the morning.

    “The policeman kept beating me and called me ‘keling’. They also shouted at me, saying I should just die so that they can close the case,” Ganesan was quoted by FMT as recalling.

    The youngster was then warned not to report the matter before he was bundled into an ambulance and despatched to the Tunku Jaafar Hospital.

    Now, what should one make of such news when the men in uniform go back on their duties and abuse the trust the people have in them?

    To think that the former inspector-general of police, Rahim Noor, unfortunately set the precedent when he beat up former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, to the extent of punching the latter in the eye, earning Anwar the “blue” eye bruise that paradoxically went on to become the symbol of his party, Keadilan.

    Police notoriety

    With police notoriety fast becoming the norm than the exception, it is no longer acceptable that the government under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak acts nonchalantly over the abuse the public suffers at the hands of the police.

    Clearly, the need for a body to keep an eye on the cops and admonish them where need be has to be instituted. The federal government’s refusal to acknowledge the role of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is best translated as the government’s could-not-care-less attitude about how the people suffer at the hands of the police. Are the police the new “law”?

    Refusing to create a monitoring body to ensure the cops remain within the boundaries of their duty has only put the federal government in a bad light. Citing reasons why the IPCMC is not necessary gives the people the message that the government is not willing to undertake any measure to upset the police force. But why?

    Has the country’s police force become a law unto itself, doing as it pleases, sending the public the message that it has immunity courtesy of the “powers that be”?

    When cops who beat up detainees are let free by the court, it marks a sad day for the justice system in this country. And it is even more appalling that the government that keeps brainwashing the “people first” chant to the people finds it unnecessary to intervene.

    In 2005, a 634-page report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police Force, headed by a former judge, revealed that the police were brutal, inept and the most corrupt among the government departments. Between 1999 and 2003, there were 5,726 formal corruption complaints involving the police force and it was recommended that the police force be monitored by an independent watchdog.

    Still, the BN government is adamant that there is no use for the IPCMC.

    An Indian-based non-governmental organisation, Aastivaram Foundation, said between 2003 and 2007, there were 85 custodial deaths. This number excluded those who were shot dead.

    “The commission is long overdue. Currently, the police themselves investigate cases of police abuse and I believe they tend to cover up such cases,” the foundation’s vice-president R Sanjeevan told FMT recently.

    On June 18, 2008, a cop on duty at the Putra Heights (in Subang Jaya) police station raped a woman pillion rider after detaining her boyfriend at the police station for riding the motorbike without a licence. The 17-year-old girl gathered all her courage to take the perpetrator to court. And yes, this was not the first such case involving a policeman but something must be done soon to make sure it is never repeated.

    If a policeman is unable to carry out his responsibilities with respect to the uniform he wears and to the people he is duty-bound to protect, then there is no reason left for his presence in the force.

    Dare BN government leash the police?

    Rape, deaths in cells, working with car-stealing syndicates and perhaps various other unlawful activities, the police force has today become a tainted profession, one which many would only venture into as the last resort.

    If blame is to be assigned for the sad state of the police force, it rightfully goes to the BN government for, in its own way, “encouraging” the cops to carry on with their bad ways. Rahim became the thug of the day when he decided that bashing up a detainee was not a big deal. And the “trend” continues, with detainees suffering brutality at the hands of the police.

    It is a different story for those detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). They suffer a different kind of humiliation at the hands of the police, encompassing physical, mental and emotional tortures.

    With so much wrongdoing taking place, the government is still in two minds about “leashing” the police force. Has this inability to decide, anything to do with the “you scratch my back, I scratch your back” syndrome infamously plaguing the government agencies?

    When it comes to the deaths of detainees in police cells, this has been going on for so long that it begs the question, why is the government not disturbed by it? Or the government just does not care, to be precise.

    Had the government under Najib cared, as he incessantly claims, the case of the police constable who beat up a 23-year-old suspected car thief, A Kugan while under police custody in 2009, and was let off the hook by the court, would have given the country’s leader sleepless nights. Instead, it is Kugan’s family who is left high and dry, after justice eluded them.

    But then deaths at the hands of the cops is nothing new in Malaysia. If anything, it has become pandemic. Back in 1993, it was reported that teenage fisherman Manaf Mat died at the Alor Star General Hospital nine days after he was arrested for alleged possession of dadah. The police, however, refuted claims of negligence leading to Manaf’s death and passed the buck to the prison authorities.

    In 1994, a 45-year-old detainee, Lim Thiam Hock. was found dead inside the Klang police station lock-up. Lim had defaulted on his supervision after serving sentence for dadah offences in 1990.

    In 1995, the then attorney-general Mokhtar Abdullah ordered a judicial inquiry following dissatisfaction with the police’s failure to identify the death of an air-conditioned mechanic, Lee Quat Leong, while under detention. Lee was detained under the Emergency Ordinance 1969, in connection with the break-in of the Mayban Finance in Cheras.

    Mokhtar made it clear that the police investigation cast serious and grave suspicion on certain officers over Lee’s death, which, according to the post-mortem, was due to internal bleeding. But city police chief Ismail Che Rus denied Lee’s death was due to internal bleeding.

    In 1997, a 25-year-old man detained for suspected car and motorcycle thefts was found dead in a toilet at the Cheras police headquarters. He was believed to have died of strangulation as there were bruises on his throat.

    In 1997, too, a second-hand car dealer R Shanmugam was found dead at the Kampung Tawas Police station lock-up, where he was detained for 66 days. The death certificate issued by the hospital authority stated he died of “hanging.” Suspecting foul play, Shanmugam’s father lodged a report at the Ipoh police station, claiming his son died due to injuries suffered while in police custody.

    In 1999, a 20-year-old drug suspect was found dead at the Nilam Puri police station in Kota Baru, two hours after his arrest. Police were about to take him to the Kota Baru police headquarters when they found him dead inside the cell.

    Deaths under police custody have yet to end. Meanwhile, the police force continues to end up with “bruises”, no thanks to the errant cops who continue to misuse the power in their hands.

    Just how long more will the public be the recipients of such atrocities committed in police cells? Is violence the way sanctioned by the “powers that be”, allowing the police to trample the very law it is supposed to be a keeper of?

    The Royal Malaysian Police is 204 years old and is smug about its motto of “Firm, Fair and Prudent” (Tegas, Adil and Berhemah). But looking at its “track record”, there is no doubt the police has failed to live up to its reason d’etre.

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