Suaram horrified by brutal death of detainee, calls for IPCMC

·3-min read
Suaram horrified by brutal death of detainee, calls for IPCMC
Suaram horrified by brutal death of detainee, calls for IPCMC

Human rights NGO Suaram has condemned the actions of those implicated in G Jestus Kevin’s death at the Bentong District police headquarters on April 2, 2020.

Its executive director Sevan Doraisamy said that the alleged abuse of power highlights the urgent need for the proposed Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be implemented.

"The recent findings by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry into Jestus' death highlights the gruesome manner in which he died just three days after his arrest.

"In light of the investigation, the Suhakam report found that the police instructed other detainees to beat up Jestus to control him, as he behaved oddly and even attempted suicide.

"Suaram is disturbed by the police officers, who were entrusted and supposed to ensure the protection and well-being of those detained, had instead used their powers unlawfully to subdue him in such a cruel and inhumane manner," Sevan said in a statement today.

The commission found that Jestus, who was detained for alleged theft last April, died as a result of swelling in the brain due to blunt force trauma, according to forensics.

"This was after he had been beaten by two detainees on the instruction of a police officer, and a forensics doctor later confirmed that the deceased had many injuries, including broken ribs.

"Other detainees at the lock-up testified that the deceased was tied up using a blanket, and beaten by another detainee - as confirmed by closed-circuit television (CCTV) recordings," Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said in an online press conference last week.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners clearly states that "all prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and that the safety and security of prisoners shall be ensured at all times".

Sevan said that while this case is exceptionally severe, Suaram would like to highlight that it is not a new or unique phenomenon.

The history of custodial death in Malaysia is a lengthy one with many detainees dying under suspicious circumstances but hardly any of the incidents have resulted in convictions, leading to the belief that the police are covering up the cases.

"Due to the frequency of such incidents, there is an urgent need for an independent and impartial body that can investigate gross misconduct by the police, such as the proposed IPCMC.

"Just two weeks ago, Malaysians were shocked by the allegations of rape in detention of a young 16-year-old girl in Miri.

"These are among a string of police violations recorded through the years by NGOs and other bodies monitoring the situation," Sevan added.

He said Suaram lauded Suhakam's inquiry and findings in this case.

"Investigations such as this are crucial to ensure that acts of abuse by the police surface, that perpetrators are held accountable and victims and their families can seek reparations.

"We hope that Suhakam will continue to take up issues of human rights violations by law enforcement officials and continue to work together with civil society members, members of the legislative and the executive to push for an IPCMC.

"We also call on the government to immediately ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - which has been ratified by 171 countries - and implement it in law and practice," he added.