Pressure builds on Putrajaya to act on Suhakam findings

PETALING JAYA: Pressure is building on Putrajaya to act on the findings of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was behind the abductions of activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) today joined the call for an independent investigation into the disappearances.

“Suhakam’s findings mark a crucial step towards ensuring that the truth about the enforced disappearances of Amri and Koh is revealed and the perpetrators punished,” FIDH secretary-general Debbie Stothard said in a joint statement with member organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and civil society group Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED).

“The Mahathir government should make a complete break with the previous administration and immediately end impunity for this heinous crime.”

The statement added that Suhakam’s findings are consistent with FIDH’s documentation alleging that state actors were responsible for the disappearances of Amri and Koh.

“On May 15, 2017, FIDH submitted separate communications to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the two cases.

“Suhakam began public hearings on the two cases on Oct 19, 2017,” it said.

Pastor Raymond Koh.

FIDH also said Malaysia is obliged under international customary law to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearances.

It is also obliged to “bring those responsible to justice, identify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared persons, and ensure the right to an effective remedy and reparation for their families”, it said.

“After Suhakam’s damning conclusion, the government can no longer bury its head in the sand,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy, who is also a member of CAGED.

In a separate statement today, CAGED said the police officers involved in the Suhakam inquiry should be suspended and questioned about any involvement in the abductions.

It reiterated calls for top cop Mohamad Fuzi Harun to step down and for investigations to be opened against former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar.

Perlis-based activist Amri Che Mat.

Adding that these should be done within a week, it said the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) bill, drafted in 2005, should be tabled within a month and a time-bound plan published to execute all measures suggested by Suhakam.

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) meanwhile voiced concern over the findings implicating the Special Branch in the disappearances of Koh and Amri.

“The police force is responsible for maintaining public order, with the safety of the rakyat being among their top priority. For the same entity to be involved in kidnapping and the forced disappearance of Malaysian individuals is chilling and unacceptable.”

In a statement, it said establishing the IPCMC would allow urgent and crucial investigations and hasten the process of bringing those responsible to justice.

It urged Putrajaya to set up the commission without further delay, and to take immediate action as recommended by Suhakam to investigate those behind the disappearances and ensure justice for the families of Koh and Amri.

The National Patriots Association and moderate Muslim group G25 meanwhile said the country’s security forces must be held accountable for any miscarriage of justice.

“This is in line with the institutional reforms for a responsible government, as promised in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto,” they said in a joint statement.

Agreeing on the need for the immediate establishment of the IPCMC, they said PH leaders must “seriously start implementing reforms that will have foolproof checks and balances measures against any possible misgovernance by future ruling parties or coalitions”.

Hindraf said it is the government’s obligation to ensure that citizens’ liberty and security is not “violated with impunity”.

“The government also needs to consider the plight and socio-economic suffering of the families concerned, and their friends who are wondering and waiting without knowing their fate or whereabouts.”