Custodial deaths: Independent commission needed now more than ever

M-Kulasegaran

PETALING JAYA: In light of the recent deaths of two persons in police custody, DAP has vowed to continue pushing for the “much delayed” establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) when Parliament reconvenes next month.

In a statement, DAP vice-chairman M Kula Segaran said a responsible Cabinet could and must not treat police custodial deaths as a trivial matter.

“Every human life is important and not a mere statistic when it is lost.”

He added that the Cabinet must exercise political will to set up the IPCMC to prevent more deaths in custody.

S Balamurugan, 44, was arrested on Feb 6 and found dead in the early hours of Feb 8 at the North Klang district police headquarters.

On Jan 15, a detainee named Soh Kai Chiok died in the Bera district police headquarters lock-up.

Kula went on to note that last month, the High Court ruled that lorry driver P Chandran had died in custody in 2012 because the police had failed to observe Lock-Up Rules 1953.

He also quoted Human Rights Commission of Malaysia statistics showing 242 had died in police custody since 2000.

“This is most shocking and totally unacceptable. Yet, most disappointingly, the Home Minister Zahid Hamidi and the Cabinet have maintained an elegant silence when they should have expressed immediate, utmost outrage and concern.”

The IPCMC was recommended by a 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry but was never formed. Putrajaya has claimed that there is no need for it because the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) already exists.

Kula’s statement comes a day after DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang made a similar call while branding the EAIC ineffective.

Previously, Kula’s party colleague and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy said the EAIC could do no more than recommend the necessary actions.