Preventing Death in Custody in Malaysia

Proposer:

Kenneth Cheng

Affiliations:

SUARAM

Policy Code:

2b Human Rights

Problem Statement / Issue:

Whenever an individual dies when they are in the custody of any government agency, the death would be considered as death in custody. In Malaysia, documented cases of death in custody usually falls under the Royal Malaysian Police, the Prison Department or the Immigration Department. From 2013 till April 2016, 721 individuals has reportedly died in police custody. Most recently, the fact that 5 men has reportedly died from April 2021 - June 2021 has shown that the issue of rampant death in custody has not been addressed.

Till date, there is little or no legislations to address police misconduct and punitive actions against law enforcement officials who was alleged to be responsible in any custodial. This is also partly due to the lack of an independent external oversight body that could investigate and hold the police accountable.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

We believe that deaths in custody caused by police negligence and misconduct must be held accountable as all Malaysians has a right to life as enshrined in our Federal Constitution. Furthermore, any deaths in custody should also be investigated thoroughly and the perpetrator must face legal actions and the victim's family right to redress should be protected.

Proposal of Solution and Call to Action:

- The Government should introduce a Coroners’ Court Act, similar to that of Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and other Commonwealth nations that will strengthen the roles of coroners through fundamental structural reforms in its inquiry processes of deaths in custody cases. The government could always refer to the draft bill submitted by the Bar Council in October 2020 as a start of the process of ensuring an independent coroners' court in Malaysia.

- Ensure adequate healthcare is accessible for detainees and this including the presence of medical personnel at all lock-ups and places of detention

- Establish an independent external police oversight body such as the now defunct Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) that was previously proposed by the Pakatan Harapan government to hold the police accountable for their misconduct

- To censure and punish all police personnel found guilty of directly or indirectly casuing the death of a detainee. The Attorney General must also act upon any findings and recommendations from relevant bodies to ensure not only justice be done but must be seen to be done

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