Special Branch must be first to face IPCMC, says activist

Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat were victims of enforced disappearances by the Special Branch, according to the human rights commission, Suhakam.

PETALING JAYA: The police Special Branch should be the first to be investigated by the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconducts Commission, a human rights activist said today.

Rama Ramanathan of Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances said the federal government must stop “dragging its feet” and immediately establish an independent task force to thoroughly investigate the disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and Perlis-based activist Amri Che Mat.

The task force was recommended by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Rama Ramanathan.

Last month Suhakam said that Amri was a victim of enforced disappearance, and held that “the enforced disappearance was carried out by agents of the state, namely Special Branch, Bukit Aman”.

Rama said having the Special Branch called up by the IPCMC would show that “it takes seriously the public expectation that honour will be restored to the Special Branch”.

Pastor Koh’s wife, Susanna Koh, told FMT she was very happy that the police force had been positive about the setting up of the IPCMC.

“But we want to know what happened to Pastor Raymond Koh and the rest who disappeared. Who did it and where are they now? Why did they do it?

“When we met with the Home Minister after the Suhakam decision, I personally appealed to him to set up the new Task Force within a month. It is more than a month now and there is no news when it will be set up,” she added.

In April, after an 18-month-long public inquiry, Suhakam had blamed the Special Branch for forcibly causing the disappearances of Koh and Amri.

Susanna Koh.

Koh was abducted from his car by a group of more than 10 men on Feb 13, 2017. Amri has been missing since Nov 24, 2016.

Former Inspector-General of Police, Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who was head of Special Branch at the time, said the police were “disappointed” that Suhakam had made its findings public. He added that the police will be considering action against the commission.

Last Friday, the police finally agreed to the setting up of the oversight body after years of resistance.

The IPCMC is not expected to have powers of prosecution but would only deal with discipline, according to Abu Kassim Mohamed, director-general of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti Corruption.

“Actually, IPCMC’s role will not go beyond its powers as a disciplinary body. It will not have prosecution powers for criminal cases and other cases, other than those dealing with discipline (tatatertib).”

Civil society and the Bar Council have urged that the new commission be given enforcement and prosecution powers for it to be more effective.