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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Police continues to come under fire over May Day sweep

05/05/2015 04:54 PM
Human Rights group Proham says that the police had no reasons to hold activists and politicians overnight for questioning
By Christopher Loh (Berita Daily)
KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights body Proham today expressed its disappointment with the police over the arrests of May Day rally organisers and participants.

Proham secretary-general Denisan Jayasooria told Berita Daily that the police had abused their powers by their arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention of those arrested.

He said that the police had a duty to protect and facilitate peaceful gatherings rather than intimidate and harass their organisers and participants.

''It goes beyond questioning that the anti-GST themed Labour Day rally was a peaceful rally and thus a legitimate one,'' he said.

He criticised the police for dramatising and sensationalising ''isolated incidents during the rally',' such as the use of one smoke grenade.

He said the arrest of activists S Ambiga, Hishammudin Rais and Fariz Musa, as well as politicians Anthony Loke from DAP, PAS' Mohamad Sabu, Khalid Samad and Hattta Ramli, and PKR's Rafizi Ramli and Tian Chia were shocking and unnecessary.

He denounced their overnight detention as not only being unnecessary but in total violation of human rights standards.

''The Royal Police Commission in 2005 had issued guidelines to the police clearly stating that prolonged detention of any sort has to be justified by 'absolute necessity','' he said.

'Politicisation of police power'

He clarified that 'absolute necessity' was defined on the grounds of whether or not the detained individuals posed a threat to public safety.

''Therefore, seeing that as Ambiga, Loke and the others were hardly dangerous criminals, their overnight detention was entirely unnecessary,'' he added.

''Furthermore, the recording of a police statement only took a meagre 10 minutes, it is hardly like this (the anti-GST rally) was a murder investigation,'' he said. ''The police are meant to uphold human rights, not violate them."

Jayasooria added that the government must establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without delay to hold the police force “accountable for all abuses of power”.

Proham was among 51 Malaysian civil society organisations that have signed a joint statement protesting the misconduct of the police in response to the post-rally arrests and other abuses of power.

The statement accused the police of ''post-rally harassment of protesters'' and ''the politicisation of police power'' in relation to the post May Day rally arrests.

Apart from the politicians and organisers of the rally, the police had also detained 23 others for investigations into smoke bombs that were let off during the rally. They were arrested after the rally on Friday and are expected to be released later today.

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