The group Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (Edict) has demanded a coroner’s inquest to investigate the death of Surendran Shanker, who died while being held under a law that allows for detention-without-trial.
Edict said no one should die in detention and all parties must work together to put an end to such deaths.
“Edict is disappointed with the frequency of such deaths in custody, which the government does not seem to care about.
“Edict calls for an inquest to be done by a coroner’s court immediately to determine the cause of the youth’s death.
“The coroner’s court is the only entity tasked under the law to investigate cases of deaths in custody, as per the Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Practice Direction No 2 Year 2019,” it said in a statement last night.
Edict said it hoped Surendran’s family would pursue justice for his death, and offered to provide legal assistance if needed.
It said the government must take swift action to end deaths in custody, and enforcement officers must be trained to better handle detainees.
“The welfare of detainees is frequently neglected while in prison, detention centres, and lock-ups. Thus the government must upgrade facilities, prison conditions, and immigration detention centres so it is suitable for holding detainees,” it said.
Previously, Free Malaysia Today reported Surendran had died in the wee hours of May 27 at Kluang Hospital, after complaining of “severe pain in his stomach” on May 25.
Prior to being admitted to the hospital, the 21-year old was being held under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959.
FMT reported that according to a police report lodged by a prison official, a Kluang Hospital doctor had told the said official that Surendran had died of “septic shock with multiple organ failure”.
His mother Kumatameri Asirvatham, however, reportedly said Surendran had no health issues and the family suspected foul play.
Meanwhile, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik said he had communicated with the Prisons Department and Kluang Hospital officials on the incident, and they have promised to cooperate in the investigation into the death.
He added that they were professional in his communication with them.
"I urge the authorities to conduct an inquest pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code to identify the cause of death of the late Surendran in the Simpang Renggam Prison," he said.
Maszlee said an inquest is not intended to find fault but serves as a fact-finding mission.
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng also called for a thorough investigation into Surendran's death as well as two earlier custodial deaths involving A Ganapathy and S Sivabalan.
"An inquest should be held for all police custodial deaths and full information and sympathy provided to their families. Those responsible should be punished and stern action taken to prevent any repeat of such custodial deaths," he said.
Lim said this was where police resources should be put into, instead of investigating MPs for asking questions about custodial deaths.
Lim was referring to the police's decision to investigate Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman over a social media post in which he called for justice for Ganapathy's death.
"Investigating MPs voicing out their concern over these police custodial deaths will not serve to enhance public confidence.
"The public cannot understand what criminal act Syed Saddiq has committed with his statements," he said.