Wife of Perlis activist sues police, govt over probes into his disappearance

Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, the wife of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat.

PETALING JAYA: The wife of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat has sued the government, the police, the home minister, his predecessor and 17 others over the conduct of the ministry and the police during their investigations into her husband’s disappearance three years ago.

Norhayati Mohd Ariffin’s claim was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

In it, she also named a number of serving and former police officers including former top cops Khalid Abu Bakar and Fuzi Harun as well as former principal assistant director CP Awaludin Jadid who headed an intelligence division within the Special Branch dedicated to religious and social issues.

Her claims against the defendants include the breach of law, breach of statutory duties, misfeasance in public office and negligence of duty of care and breach of standard care.

“This month marks three years since Amri was snatched from us, yet I remain in the dark as to where he is and whether he is still alive,” she said in a statement issued by her lawyer.

“From the beginning, it was clear to me that PDRM was actively failing to investigate my husband’s disappearance.

“I am convinced that this failure, especially in the critical first few days, is why my husband was not found or recovered safely from his abductors.”

Amri, who co-founded an NGO called Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016.

There have been suggestions that he was targeted over his alleged leanings towards Shia Islam, the school of thought branded as “deviant” by Malaysian Islamic authorities.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) declared him and Pastor Raymond Koh, who is also missing, victims of enforced disappearance – a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – after holding a year-long inquiry at which 40 witnesses testified.

Suhakam also held Bukit Aman’s Special Branch responsible for their disappearances, a claim denied by the police.

Norhayati said the police’s “continued failure” to conduct proper investigations in the months following her husband’s disappearance had arguably reinforced the “conspiracy of silence” that she claimed protected his abductors and concealed his fate and whereabouts.

“It is why my daughters and I have suffered and continue to suffer serious anguish and distress since Amri’s abduction,” she added.

Her lawyer Surendra Ananth said the 21 defendants listed in Norhayati’s claim were all alleged to be liable, whether directly or indirectly, for the failure to investigate Amri’s disappearance.

“This amounts to a violation of the family’s right to have the matter effectively investigated, which is a right guaranteed under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“We say that the conduct of the defendants from the date of Amri’s abduction up until the formation of the special task force by the home minister on June 26, 2019 is a violation of the said rights and amounts to actionable torts.”

He added however that Norhayati’s claim was limited to the investigation aspect before the formation of the task force.