KUALA LUMPUR: The government should stop making U-turns on its promises and muster the political will to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
Besides setting up the IPCMC, the government should also ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) to ensure accountability in the police force.
Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said police accountability was a major issue, and the government should expedite the creation of the IPCMC in line with Pakatan Harapan’s election promise.
“Time and time again we have seen the Malaysian government making U-turns on their promises even now that we are entering Pakatan Harapan’s second year in power.
“The setting up of the IPCMC is particularly urgent in light of the high number of deaths in police custody and of impunity in detention centres,” she said.
Her statement came after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s statement that the government would take note of public opinion before deciding whether to set up an IPCMC.
Dr Mahathir was responding to outgoing Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun who was reported as saying that some 130,000 serving and retired policemen had voiced their opposition to the setting up of the IPCMC.
“The letter of objection from the inspector-general of police is a delaying tactic, and the government should not use public opinion as a pretext for buckling under pressure,” said Shamini.
“The IPCMC should be a mechanism to bring justice to victims of violence, deaths in custody, and enforced disappearances, by ensuring accountability of members of the police force who are found to be involved in these abuses.”
In March 2017, the then home minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stated in response to a parliamentary question that more than 1,600 cases of death in custody were recorded in Malaysia between 2010 and February 2017.
More recently, last month, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) found that activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were victims of “enforced disappearance”, carried out with the support of state agents.
“This external and independent complaint mechanism and oversight body should have the necessary powers, resources and specialised skills to deal specifically with complaints involving the police.
“There is no single model, such as the current Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), for systems of accountability,” said Shamini.
“Different types of structures are essential to ensure that police powers are not abused and those found guilty of misconduct are held to account.”
On Tuesday, it was reported that the police force did not want to hand over the power to take disciplinary action against its personnel to the IPCMC.
Fuzi had said that the IPCMC wanted to take over the powers of the Police Commission which was outlined under Article 140 of the Federal Constitution, with regard to disciplinary action and investigations.
He had also said police would put on record its opposition to IPCMC and had written a letter to government leaders.
The setting up of the IPCMC was proposed by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he was prime minister, but the idea was put on hold when it faced opposition, mainly from the police force.
Pakatan Harapan, in its manifesto for the 14th General Election, had promised to set up an IPCMC. Last September, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said the ministry was in the final stages of scrutinising every detail of the IPCMC draft before taking it to cabinet.