Ex-CJ: Death in custody caused by cops’ disregard for human rights

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Ex-chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah says death in custody happens where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life. ― File pic
Ex-chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah says death in custody happens where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Deaths in custody were only possible because the police has turned a blind eye towards police violence, with disregard over human rights and weak self-accountability, former chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah said today.

Dzaiddin, who had led the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Police Reform, said that this police culture has been instilled even starting at their training stage, where there is little focus on respecting the rule of law or the sanctity of human life.

“The current attitude within PDRM towards the rule of law is one of indifference, with a patent disregard for basic human rights,” Dzaiddin said today, using the Malay acronym for the Royal Malaysian Police.

“Whilst the current Malaysian Police Training Camp requisites a year-long course before graduation to constable, there is a distinct lack of emphasis upon respect for the rule of law or the sanctity of human life,” he said in his keynote address at a forum on police accountability.

Dzaiddin suggested that a reform of the police training system would allow “sharper focus” on the issue of police brutality, to train police on how to react to stressful situations without resorting to lethal force.

The ex-judge also criticised the so-called “blue wall of silence”, a term used to describe the barricade of protection police officers offer each other whenever they are under investigation, in order to protect each other.

“It is near impossible to have impartiality or transparency when looking to discipline one of your own, and the more controversial the topic the more opaque any investigation is likely to become,” said Dzaiddin.

Dzaiddin had been a key voice in the call to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), an independent oversight body for the police.

The Malaysian Bar, civil society groups and politicians from both sides of the divide have been calling for the IPCMC’s implementation since 2006 but to no avail.

There have been 242 cases of death in police custody between 2000 and 2014, with at least 13 cases alone last year, as reported by global watchdog Amnesty International.

– Dzaiddin had delivered the keynote address at the Forum on Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions – Police Accountability in Malaysia, a collaboration between the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM) and Bar Council Malaysia via its Task Force on IPCMC, which took place on 30 May 2015 in Kuala Lumpur.

 


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