Lock-ups in deplorable condition, says Suhakam

James-Nayagam

PETALING JAYA: The majority of the lock-ups in Malaysia are in a deplorable condition, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) lamented, stating many of them were poorly lit or had very little ventilation.

Outgoing Suhakam Commissioner James Nayagam said these conditions, coupled with overcrowded lock-ups, had led to police officers and detainees suffering from low morale.

During a recent visit to the Dang Wangi lock-up, Nayagam claimed that the walls of the lock-ups were smeared with faeces, while the acrid stench of urine was in the air.

“My shirt stank. It was shocking and deplorable.

“How can anyone be placed there?” he said at a roundtable promoting greater police accountability in Malaysia.

Nayagam also alleged that prisoners ate meals, costing RM3 daily, which he said were “not fit for humans.”

Apart from the squalid conditions, Nayagam claimed that medical check-ups were not conducted on prisoners before they entered the cells.

Detainees, he alleged, also had no access to medical treatment during emergencies.
Nayagam also claimed there were no first aid kits, while police personnel did not know any first aid themselves.

“During one of my visits, a detainee fainted and none of the policemen knew first aid. She had to wait for 30 minutes to be taken to hospital.”

He added that detainees were not the only ones suffering from such deplorable conditions.
The officers, Nayagam alleged, were also forced to put up with leaking roofs and the constant stench hanging over the place.

He also noted that some of the buildings had faulty lifts.

“The morale is low. Could this be one of the reasons that drives the detainees to resort to self-harm, commit suicide or for officers to abuse detainees?”

Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM)  S Arutchelvan, who has been arrested several times, said most of the prison units were installed with closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor the detainees.

“But no one is seen monitoring the CCTV. They watch their own movies.”

He hoped more would be done to protect the well-being of detainees.