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Penang set up committee on custodial deaths

 | July 14, 2014

The committee, the first by any state government, is to ensure there are no custodial deaths and to look into ways how it can be avoided.

RamasamyGEORGE TOWN: In the wake of the rising deaths in police custody incidents in the state, the Pakatan Rakyat state government has set up a state-level committee to monitor and address such cases.

The three-man committee, the first to be set up by a state government in the country, consists Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and state executive councillors Dr.Afif Bahardin and Jagdeep Singh Deo.

Ramasamy, who heads the committee, said the state exco agreed to set up the committee three weeks ago.

He said the committee would engage and work closely with all the relevant authorities and agencies, especially the police and hospital pathologists and non-governmental organisations (NGO) to effectively address custodial deaths.

The committee will also explore ways to engage independent pathologists to seek second opinions on such deaths.

“The committee is to ensure there are no custodial deaths and to look into ways how it can be avoided,” Ramasamy told newsmen here today.

The committee also aims to engage legal representation for families of the deceased in custody.

The state government set up the committee after it received no response to its letters sent enquiring about custodial deaths a month ago to the Attorney-General, the police and Health Minister Dr.S Subramaniam.

Dr.Afif explained that the letter to the health ministry sought clarification on why custodial deaths were always associated with lung infections.

On June 7, an alleged drug addict suspect Agin Raj Sunmarkkan Naidu, 29, died two days after being admitted to a public hospital for suffering from fits.

He was detained on June 2 and remanded at the Bandar Perda police lock-up.

His death was the sixth death in custody in Penang in as many months.

Last week, human rights group Suaram and several NGOs submitted a memorandum to Penang police chief Deputy Commissioner Abdul Rahim Hanafi expressing concern over rising custodial deaths.


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