|Details needed for complaints on law enforcement|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 08:42am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
by Karen Arukesamy
PETALING JAYA (June 13, 2012): The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) has received 167 complaints from the public against law enforcement personnel since it began operations earlier this year.
However, a large percentage of the complaints received were via anonymous letters, which makes it difficult for the commission to verify the complaint and carry out investigations.
"When we receive anonymous letters, it is hard to determine the complaints are genuine and we have to register every complaint that we receive," EAIC deputy chairman and commissioner Datuk Paul Low told theSun today.
"People have to trust us and provide us their particulars so that we can contact them for details," said Low, who emphasised that complainants and whistleblowers will be protected under the law.
"We also have legal provisions to act against those who threaten, injure or blacklist complainants who give evidence to the EAIC," he said.
Section 44 of the EAIC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to RM100,000 for anyone who threatens, insults or injures a person for giving evidence to the commission.
Low said the commission also received complaints that are too old or happened long before the EAIC was set up, as well as domestic quarrels and grievances against employers which do not fall within the ambit of the EAIC.
"We are bound by the Act and it is difficult to proceed if the misconduct complained of occurred at too remote a time to justify an investigation as stated in (Section 23 of) the Act.
"Currently, most of the investigations are pending responses from the respective agencies and because the commission is still new, we are giving the agencies some time to respond to our queries," he said.
"We cannot simply close the cases without appropriate reasons. Nevertheless if the complaints involve misconduct, violation of procedure or abuse of power, we will investigate," he added.
Low said although the commission was set up in April last year, it didn't start till after a year because it had to start from scratch, and was able to take in complaints after its structure and procedures had been properly established.
"And in order to safeguard the commission's independence and professionalism, we had to hire, vet and train the officers well before we could take complaints," said Low, who heads Transparency International Malaysia and was appointed as one of the EAIC's seven commissioners.
Meanwhile, EAIC CEO Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar in an email interview said after preliminary investigations are made, the complaint will be sent to the complaints committee which will make a report on its findings and recommendation for deliberation and final decision by the commission.
"The commission has the power to commence a full investigation into a complaint. It can also refer the complaint to the appropriate disciplinary authority for action," she said.
Nor Afizah said if the alleged misconduct involves corruption, the EAIC will refer the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for further action.
"If the misconduct is of a criminal nature then it will be referred to the public prosecutor," she said.
The EAIC was set up by the government to cover 19 law enforcement agencies instead of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) for only the police.
It is headed by retired Federal Court judge Datuk Helilah Mohd Yusof and currently has a team of 26 officers to investigate complaints against 19 enforcement agencies, including the police, immigration, customs, Road Transport Department, Domestic Trade enforcement division and Rela.
Anyone wishing to file complaints against law enforcement officers can contact the EAIC hotline at 03-8888 6618, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or obtain more details from www.eaic.gov.my.
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