The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (the commission) expresses its support for The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)’s press release entitled “Royal Police Commission Findings: Ten Years On (April 29-2005 & 2015)” and calls on the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) to strive to act with courage, composure, tolerance, impartiality and with respect for the constitutional rights of all at all times.
The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police (Royal Commission) was established in 2004 in response to “widespread concerns regarding the high incidence of crime, perception of corruption in the PDRM, general dissatisfaction with the conduct and performance of police personnel, and a desire to see improvements in the service provided by the police”.
Among the most significant of the 125 recommendations in the 2005 Royal Commission report was the proposal to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), independent of the PDRM with the mandate, amongst others, to receive and investigate into complaints of alleged misconduct by the police force.
The report of the Royal Commission further identified that there were high instances of deaths in police custody. In its annual reports, the commission noted that there were 20 deaths in police custody in 2013 and at least 10 in 2014 based on the commission’s observations. To date, complaints involving alleged disproportionate use of force by the police, abuse of power and delays in acting on reports lodged are among the highest number of complaints received by the commission.
In response, the commission in 2011 and 2012 recommended that the police conduct initial investigations before making an arrest. and that arrests should only be made when there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence, or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent a person from committing an offence or from feeling.
The commission also has over the years outlined many recommendations to the PDRM, as contained in its public inquiry reports of 2001, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The commission wishes to reiterate several of its key recommendations for the immediate consideration of the PDRM:
– There is need for the PDRM to facilitate peaceful assemblies as envisaged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 by ensuring crowd and traffic management and control, as well as minimising disruptions to the public and activities in the places concerned.
These can be realised through meetings with the organisers as well as ongoing training and workshops on crowd management and control in line with international standards.
– There is a need for the police to make the distinction between a peaceful assembly and a riot as well as to maintain its neutrality in protecting the safety of participants and members of public in the event of public assemblies involving two or more opposing groups in the same area.
– The authorities must undertake to immediately inform the next-of-kin in cases of deaths in custody the essential information, including date, time and place of the post-mortem examination, the right to be represented by a legally qualified medical practitioner or a legal practitioner or a medical practitioner during the post-mortem examination, right of family members to have a second post-mortem examination and a thorough explanation, in layman’s language of the findings of the post-mortem examination.
– The commission also stresses that while preventive detention laws have been re-enacted, the PDRM shall refrain from detaining individuals without charge as such practices not only violate human rights principles, but can have a devastating impact on the investigative abilities of the police.
In conclusion, the commission opines that in line with the Royal Commission’s strategic objective which was to “transform the Royal Malaysian Police into a world-class, twenty-first century organisation that is efficient, clean and trustworthy, dedicated to serving the people and the nation with integrity and respect for human rights”, the PDRM must aim towards fully adopting and implementing policing policies and techniques that are effective, lawful and humane. – May 1, 2015.
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