Lawyers, NGO give Putrajaya ultimatum over enforced disappearances

Lawyer Andy Yong and Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance spokesman Rama Ramanathan.

PETALING JAYA: A group of individual lawyers and an NGO have threatened legal action against Putrajaya over the enforced disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.

At a press conference here, the lawyers, headed by lawyer Andy Yong, and Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) spokesman Rama Ramanathan, criticised the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the finding of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was responsible for the disappearance of Koh and Amri.

Yong and Rama said they wanted the government to commit to two demands within a month, failing which they would take Putrajaya to court under the Government Proceedings Act 1956.

The two demands, Yong said, were: the formation of a special task force to investigate what really happened to Koh and Amri, and for remedy to be provided to the families of the duo.

“The remedy includes ensuring their families are given firsthand information on what really happened and the possibility of monetary damages.”

Earlier this week, Suhakam declared Koh and Amri victims of “enforced disappearance” after its inquiry which heard testimonies from some 40 witnesses.

Pressure has since been mounting for action against top police officers, including outgoing Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who headed the Special Branch at the time the abductions took place.

Koh was abducted on Feb 13, 2017, in Petaling Jaya, while Amri went missing on Nov 24, 2016, after leaving his home in Perlis.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, while assuring that the government would not interfere in follow-up action related to the Suhakam finding, had said the inquiry’s conclusion was based on hearsay.

Yong said Mahathir’s remark that Suhakam’s finding was hearsay was “unacceptable” and “erroneous”.

“We are giving the government, the home ministry and the IGP (Fuzi) one month to take these actions (the two demands) or we will file legal action.”

He added that they would also speak to the families of Koh and Amri to see if they wanted to be included in the suit should it come to that.

“These cases are of grave public concern. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone,” Yong said.

Meanwhile, Rama said he was delighted that lawyers around the country were standing up for this issue.

He said it was “striking” that Mahathir had described Suhakam’s findings as “hearsay” and questioned why no one had been held to account yet.

Aside from Yong, the other lawyers who are part of the group are Ivanpal Singh Grewal, Cyrus Foo Woei, Ong Siang Liang, Chai Ko Ting, Raymond Leong and legal officers NC Lam and Bavinia Raj.