By G Lavendran
Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR | Feb 15, 2013
There is an urgent need for the government to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in view of the high number of deaths in police custody.
In making this call, a coalition of 42 NGOs dubbed “Stop State Violence Movement”, said the rise in the number of deaths in police custody and police brutality cases showed that there is a need for an impartial body to check on the conduct of the police.
“The number of deaths in police custody and [cases of] police brutality are on the rise. We have to stop this. Is the state willing to take responsibility over the deaths in custody? What action is being taken against policemen who are brutal in discharging their duties?” Tenaganita founder and director Irene Fernandez told a press conference, attended by several coalition members.
Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan, who was present, claimed that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein recently revealed in Parliament that there were 209 cases of deaths in police custody from 2000-2009 (August).
“Why is this even happening? We can’t complain about the police to the police themselves, nothing is going to happen.
“That is why we need IPCMC, to have a higher authority over police investigations and to prosecute fairly if necessary,” Thevarajan said.
KOMAS coordinator, Lena Hendry, said such cases seem to be on the rise over the last two months.
“We just celebrated the New Year… we are just stepping into 2013 but we already have various cases of police brutality and a huge public outcry.
“Police have become gangsters with licence to kill,” she added.
Lawyers for Liberty coordinator Michelle Yesudas said while NGOs have been telling the government to form the IPCMC for years, the power-that-be seems to be turning a deaf ear to the call.
“There is no mechanism to check on the police. We have to keep everything in balance. We are asking for more transparency in the way the police operate,” said Michelle.
The movement also claimed although the call was for the formation of the IPCMC, the government has only established the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).
“This commission cannot work without an official complaint and is bound under strict jurisdictions, so what does this really resolve?” Suaram coordinator Kar Fai noted.
“We must abolish EAIC because it is just putting on a show, and instead bring on IPCMC.” he added.