Suhakam’s public inquiry into missing duo to begin Feb 18

Joshua Himly and his wife Ruth Sitepu, were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today it will conduct a public inquiry into the disappearance of pastor Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Hilmy next month.

The inquiry panel will be chaired by commissioner Hishamuddin Yunus who will be assisted by commissioners Jerald Joseph and Madeline Berma. The hearings will commence on Feb 18 at Suhakam’s premises.

In a statement, Suhakam urged anyone with relevant information regarding the case to come forward and have their statements recorded by Suhakam from now till Feb 14.

“Through this inquiry, Suhakam intends to fully investigate to its best ability what has transpired in order to identify and make the best possible recommendations to the appropriate parties.”

Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, and his wife Ruth Sitepu,  were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.

Suhakam had earlier held public inquiries into the disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and Perlis activist Amri Che Mat.

The inquiry panel concluded that they were victims of an enforced disappearance.

Panel chairman Mah Weng Kwai had said:

“The panel is of the considered view that the enforced disappearance of Amri was carried out by agents of the state namely Special Branch, Bukit Aman.

“The disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh was neither a case of voluntary disappearance nor a case of involuntary disappearance in breach of the ordinary criminal law. The directive and circumstantial evidence in Koh’s case also proves that he was abducted by the Special Branch.”

The statement today added:

“Notwithstanding Suhakam’s investigation, the commission calls on the authorities to fully and expeditiously investigate all cases where there is reasonable suspicion that an enforced disappearance may have occurred.”

It said the public inquiry is to determine whether this is a case of enforced or involuntary disappearances as defined under the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and whether it constitutes criminal offence under the national laws.

If this is established at the inquiry, the panel will determine how such violations took place; what administrative directives or procedures or arrangements contributed to this; which persons or agencies were responsible for the violation; whether the police and other authorities had taken adequate measures to investigate the case, and recommend guidelines to ensure such violations do not recur.