Family of missing Amri Che Mat denied govt’s report on disappearance, told it’s ‘secret’, release against ‘national interest’

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Norhayati Mohd Arifin and Susanna Liew attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Norhayati Mohd Arifin and Susanna Liew attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 ― The Malaysian government has refused to provide the family of Amri Che Mat with the findings of its special task force set up to look into his disappearance in 2016.

Surendra Ananth, a lawyer representing Amri’s family, said the authorities have told them the report is classified.

“With reference to an ongoing lawsuit filed on 18 September 2019, Norhayati Mohd Ariffin’s lawyer filed a request in discovery on 25 May 2021 for a copy of the Special Task Force report to be made available to the court.

“In September 2021, in its Reply Affidavit, the Malaysian government refused to make available the Special Task Force report on the grounds of it being classified as “secret” under the Official Secrets Act 1972, claiming that its public release would be against ‘national interest’,” he said in a statement today.

“We do not believe that there is a legitimate or reasonable reason to classify as an official secret a report of a task force announced so publicly two years ago. This is the latest in a series of roadblocks the legal team has faced even at discovery stage.

“We also filed an earlier discovery application for the SOP of the police on abduction cases, which the government opposed. The court dismissed our application. We have filed an appeal against this decision in the Court of Appeal,” he added.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today called on the government to make public the report of the task force set up by the government on the disappearances of Amri and Pastor Raymond Koh.

Amri, a social activist, has been missing since 2016 also under questionable circumstances, amid accusations of him being a proponent of the Shia Islamic teachings.

Suhakam deduced that Amri was a victim of enforced disappearance, in the same public inquiry that investigated the missing pastor in 2019.

Koh has been missing since 2017. He was last seen leaving his home in Petaling Jaya, Selangor to buy food and was reported to have been abducted later that day.

His disappearance was preceded by accusations of him attempting to proselytise Muslims into Christianity.

Like Amri, Suhakam concluded that Koh was a victim of an enforced disappearance, with his abduction supposedly carried out by the Royal Malaysian Police’s Special Branch operatives although this remains to be proven.

* Editor's note: An earlier version of this article contained an error which has since been corrected.

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