The Malaysian Bar is appalled that two more men have died while in police custody, within the space of merely a few weeks.
Nizam Idris, 39, was found hanged in the Selama police station lock–up on 17 March 2018. Selama district police chief Deputy Superintendent Loo Lian Lay said that the Royal Malaysia Police’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department (Jabatan Integriti dan Pematuhan Standard, “JIPS”) was investigating Nizam Idris’s death to establish if the police officers on duty had been negligent, and that the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (“EAIC”) was also conducting an investigation.
In the second case, Thanabalan Subramaniam, 38, was pronounced dead at Shah Alam Hospital on 17 April 2018 after having been found unconscious at the Shah Alam central lock–up — where he had been detained for some 20 days — earlier that evening. The Director–General of Health in the Ministry of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, stated that Thanabalan Subramaniam had shown symptoms of fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and lack of appetite for four days before he died. It appears that Thanabalan Subramaniam might not have received adequate medical attention at the onset of his illness.
These deaths may well have been prevented if the police officers on duty had been more diligent in their duty to ensure the safety and well–being of the detainees entrusted to their care.
The Malaysian Bar is deeply concerned that the case of Nizam Idris is being investigated by JIPS, which — by virtue of being a department within the Royal Malaysia Police — is not independent; and by the EAIC, a commission that is not dedicated to oversight of the police force, under–resourced, under–staffed and unable to take any action or bring any wrongdoer to book. We are not aware of any reported results of investigation by JIPS or by the EAIC, which lends to the perception that acts of misconduct and negligence in these cases may well go unaddressed and/or unpunished.
The Malaysian Bar reiterates our call on the Government to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (“Royal Commission”), in its report published in May 2005, to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”) to function as an independent and external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct, including acts of negligence. Although 13 years have passed since this report was published, the need to set up the IPCMC remains as relevant, and even more pressing, today. The deaths of Nizam Idris and Thanabalan Subramaniam are an urgent wake–up call that the Government must no longer ignore.
23 April 2018