Article contributed by Firdaus Husni, Deputy Chairperson, Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC; and photos provided by Sabah Law Association
On 27 Aug 2016, the Bar Council Task Force on Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”), in collaboration with the Sabah Law Association, organised a public forum entitled “Promoting Greater Police Accountability in Malaysia”. The public forum was held at Likas Square Hotel, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.
The President of the Sabah Law Association, Brenndon Soh, delivered the opening remarks. In his speech, Brenndon said he hoped the forum would identify the weaknesses in the existing system and explore practical and legal solutions towards enhancing the perception of the police force in Malaysia.
This was followed by the keynote address by George Varughese, Vice–President of the Malaysian Bar. In his speech, George emphasised that the recommendation made by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police, in its report released in 2005, to establish an IPCMC, among others, was met with overwhelming support from civil society organisations, but was not implemented because of strong resistance from the police force.
There was a slide presentation by Firdaus Husni, Deputy Chairperson of the Task Force. Firdaus discussed, among others, case studies involving deaths in police custody, police shooting and other forms of police misconduct and abuse. She also highlighted that Malaysia has yet to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) to ensure that national law enforcement agencies are duty–bound to comply with the provisions of CAT, which aim to protect people against torture or any form of ill treatment by the authorities.
The event continued with a panel discussion featuring James Nayagam, former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (“SUHAKAM”); Datuk GBB Nandy @ Gaanesh, former President of the Sabah Law Association; M Ramachelvam, Co–Chairperson of the Task Force; and Brenndon Soh, President of the Sabah Law Association. This was followed with a question–and–answer session with the participants. Among the issues raised were the possibility of cases happening in Sabah, which may have gone unreported due to fear of backlash, public and government apathy towards the issue, and the efficiency — or lack thereof — of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (“EAIC”).
In his closing remarks at the conclusion of the event, M Ramachelvam welcomed the possibility of further collaboration with the Sabah Law Association, particularly in documenting instances of police misconduct and abuse, and providing lawyers with the necessary training on inquest matters.