Custodial deaths: New procedures to categorise offenders

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KUALA LUMPUR: Police have reviewed their standard operating procedures (SOP) to tackle the growing problem of custodial deaths, said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In a written Dewan Rakyat reply, dated March 20, Zahid said the new SOP contained the requirement to isolate detainees with contagious illnesses and to ensure detainees fill up and verify a form stating their injuries or illnesses.

Also, as much as possible, detainees should be isolated according to the category of offences they’re accused of, Zahid said.

They could be isolated as remand detainees, convicted detainees, drunk detainees, habitual offenders, detainees held under preventive laws, or women and child detainees, said Zahid.

“Visits by Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) are organised to ensure the detentions are in line with international guidelines.”

There are also periodic checks by the health ministry, and inspections on police lock-ups have been part of the home ministry’s key performance indicators since 2017, added Zahid.

The written reply, however, did not state when the SOP came into effect.

Zahid was responding to a question by Liang Teck Meng (Gerakan-Simpang Renggam), who asked the home ministry to state the actions it had taken to tackle the problem of custodial deaths.

He also asked why the ministry hadn’t formed a special independent tribunal to monitor the law enforcers.

To the second question, Zahid said the ministry had no plans to form such a tribunal as existing laws were adequate.