PETALING JAYA: The functions of the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) need to be reviewed following the petition filed by 125 prison inmates alleging abuse by wardens, says Maria Chin Abdullah.
The former Petaling Jaya MP said it was regrettable that the allegations had come at a time when IPCC has been tasked with looking into prison reforms.
“Unfortunately, for more than 60 years, beatings and inhuman treatment of prisoners seem to be the SOP, and the offending officers get off with impunity,” Maria said in a statement.
She said IPCC needs to be impartial and divorced from the state and the police to avoid conflict of interest.
It must be empowered to investigate and have disciplinary powers to take action against police officers responsible for serious abuses, she added.
She said the IPCC should be able to protect whistleblowers from penalty or intimidation.
Maria also proposed that the existing plans for prison reforms be reviewed with the prisons department, police, agencies and civil society, while the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) be empowered to ensure all enforcement agencies under its purview adhere to this plan.
Maria’s proposals came days after EAIC said it would not accept any complaints made against the police or its officers, because this responsibility had been removed by statute.
Maria said it would not be easy to undertake these proposed reforms within a year or two, but said there were a range of issues within the police that needed further scrutiny to protect the force’s name and national security.
“We need to focus on respect for humanity, rehabilitation and re-education for law enforcers,” she added.
Yesterday, FMT reported that 125 inmates in a prison in the northern region had signed a petition urging the government to look into abuse by wardens. This is the second such petition, following claims of similar abuse at another prison.
The inmates claimed they were abused for talking in their cells and perceived disobedience during muster sessions and that hundreds were beaten with PVC pipes and other blunt objects at the “whims and fancies of the wardens”.
FMT has also reached out to the state prison director concerned, and the commissioner-general of prisons for comment.