KUALA LUMPUR: Amnesty International Malaysia has called on the authorities concerned to immediately investigate allegations of torture and deaths at the Juru detention centre in Penang.
AI Malaysia was referring to a 15 August 2016 report where a woman told The Cambodia Daily that she had suffered abuse at the Juru detention centre. The woman also claimed there had been seven deaths, including three – two Cambodians and a Vietnamese – the morning after they were repeatedly hit, kicked and punched in the face and chest.
“These are serious allegations and the authorities must investigate urgently,” said AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu in a statement. “This is not the first time that such allegations have been made.”
The statement urged Suhakam and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) to probe the Juru detention centre.
Torture can never be justified, she warned. “It’s cruel and does not belong in civilized society.”
“Allowing torture to prevail indicates failure to prevent this crime.”
Apart from abuse, she added, there are concerns on conditions at the Juru detention centre.
“The detention centres, immigration depots, prisons and police lock-ups have been criticized for years for failing to meet basic standards,” said Shamini. “The authorities must ensure that basic living conditions are met.”
She cited the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners. It sets basic standards for prisoners’ living conditions, personal hygiene, food and medical services, apart from other basic rights.
The allegations against the Juru detention centre comes in the wake of Suaram disclosing earlier this year that 14 detainees under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) were tortured or ill-treated.
The allegations are being investigated.
At Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2013, at least 17 countries including France, Australia and Japan urged Malaysia to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT).
“We have the international legal framework in place to combat torture,” said Shamini. “We are now campaigning for Malaysia to make it effective.”
The UPR is a peer-review mechanism at the UN Human Rights Council where countries make human rights recommendations to states under review every four and a half years.