Ratify UN convention on enforced disappearances, Suhakam tells govt

Suhakam says its inquiry into a missing pastor and activist proves that enforced disappearances have taken place in Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged the government to ratify the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), saying there are no laws at present against enforced disappearances.

“There are no provisions for any remedy should a disappearance involve state actors or agents,” Suhakam added in a statement today in conjunction with International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, celebrated yearly on Aug 30.

It said there was also no official data on the number of such cases in Malaysia as incidences of alleged enforced disappearances were often classified as cases of missing persons, abduction or kidnapping.

Suhakam referred to its findings of a public inquiry into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Perlis activist Amri Che Mat this year as proof that enforced disappearances had taken place in the country.

“The commission believes that to effectively address an issue, it is important to first acknowledge that it exists,” it said.

It also said it believed ratification of ICPPED would not only ensure that legal recognition and remedies were put in place for victims of enforced disappearances, but also “signal a commitment” that enforced disappearances were unacceptable.

Suhakam noted that while the government had set up a task force to study the findings of its inquiry into Koh and Amri’s disappearances, the terms of references for the task force had not been made public.

“Suhakam is observing the progress of this investigation closely,” it said.

Koh has been missing since Feb 13, 2017, while Amri, the founder of Perlis NGO Hope, went missing on Nov 24, 2016.

After Suhakam’s inquiry established that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was responsible for their disappearances, a six-member task force was announced to act on the findings. They have six months to study them.