Friday, February 04, 2011

ABIM can play a bigger role in ensuring justice in death in custody cases

It is great that more and more civil society groups have been coming out in death in police custody cases. Just a few days ago, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, and now it is Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim).

ABIM wants family members to be proactive and demand  for an inquest in death in custody cases - but alas, they will need help in the form of advice and assistance, and as such I hope that more and more civil society groups will offer this service as part of their functions. I am sure that the Bar Council and other groups that have been in the forefront in asking for these inquest, demanding 2nd post-mortems, etc would be more than willing to provide the necessary training needed.

Given the fact that groups like ABIM has a large membership spread all over Malaysia, they do have the required capacity to help families of persons who, not only die in police custody, but also those who were killed in police 'shoot to kill' incidents. 

Family members of detainees who die in police custody have been urged to be more proactive in demanding an inquest into such sudden deaths, so as to help prevent these from recurring.

"When a person dies in custody, the family must take the initiative and demand their right to an inquest," Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) secretary-general Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim (right in picture).

NONE"In some cases, I do not blame the family members, for many may not be aware of this right. Those in the know should proceed with their demand for an answer. They should not wait until a NGO makes a move," he told Malaysiakini.

As many as 147 deaths in police custody have been reported since 2000 and several NGO activists have demanded guarantees from the Home Ministry and the police that such deaths will no longer occur.

Yesterday, the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia called for a 'third party witness' to be present during interrogation in police stations, as a move to curb deaths in custody.

Statistics between 2000 and February 2010 showed that 64 Malays had died in police custody, with 30 deaths among Chinese detainees, 28 among Indians, eight people of other races and 14 of the dead being foreigners.

Raimi said NGOs should actively assist family members of victims of sudden death in the custody of police or other authorities, especially in cases where the families were not aware of what they can do.

azlan"Therefore, it is vital for us to guide them (the families)," he said, adding that everybody deserved to learn the truth behind such deaths.
'Nothing to do with race'

Raimi also called for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be formed soon, noting that nothing had been done since it was first proposed in a royal commission report six years ago.

"It's high time the IPCMC is implemented. Important changes for justice must be done now, it must be seen to be done," he said.

The police force, he said, should also be more responsible, with all its officers and men becoming familiar with the Criminal Procedure Code so that they do not abuse power.
"When a detainee dies in custody, it is not good. It simply means the detainee died without proper judgment. It is the court that finds a person guilty and passes sentence, not the police," he added.

Asked to comment on figures showing Malays being the highest number of people dying in police custody, Raimi said all human lives are equally important and racial origin does not have any role in custodial deaths.

"A life is a life, simple. Do not make these deaths a racial issue. We should advocate justice for those who died and for their family members," he added. - Malaysiakini, 2/2/2011, Demand inquest, custodial death victims' kin told

See also earlier posts:

147 [64 Malays, 30 Chinese, 28 Indians,...] died in police custody 2000-2010

Note also that we must not just be concerned about those who die in police custody, on in police shooting incidents - but for those who die in custody at MACC, Immigration Detention Centres, Prisons, etc...

Shot Dead By Police
279 shot dead in 2000-2009 period

 2,571 deaths in custody between 1999 - 2008 - prisons, rehabilitation centres and illegal immigrant detention depots

A TOTAL of 2,571 detainees died of various diseases while being held in the country’s prisons, rehabilitation centres and illegal immigrant detention depots between 1999 and 2008, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said. - 2,571 detainees died in past nine years - Star, 24/3/2009

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