Friday, January 19, 2007

Probe prisoner 'beatings': Suhakam tells police (Malaysiakini)

Probe prisoner 'beatings': Suhakam tells police
Andrew Ong
Jan 19, 07 5:00pm

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said it will launch a public inquiry if the police do not investigate the alleged beatings of inmates in the Simpang Renggam detention centre in Johor.

According to Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam, the commission views seriously the allegations of abuse by warders compiled in his report after he visited the centre last week.

“We want the police to investigate the police reports lodged by the alleged victims and their parents first.

“We would give them one month to do so, failing which Suhakam would hold a public inquiry into the matter,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On Monday, he said Suhakam appointed three commissioners to carry out the tentative public inquiry - Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Dr Chiam Heng Keng and newly appointed commissioner and former director of the Public Complaints Bureau Khalid Ibrahim.

“A public inquiry would once and for all enable victims and their parents to present their evidence (on the alleged abuse) to the inquiry,” he added.

To date, there has been no official account of the incident. According to news reports, 16 inmates were given outpatient treatment at the Kluang hospital after the incident.

One inmate, who contacted malaysiakini shortly after the incident, claimed that ratan canes and batons were used to beat inmates after they were made to squat on the floor.

Previously, Siva said his Jan 8 visit to the detention centre revealed prima facie evidence of human rights abuse by the warders.

Don’t delay

In another development, rights group Suaram urged Suhakam not to delay in holding the public inquiry as evidence might be tampered with over the month.

“We think it should be done as soon as possible because physical evidence on the inmates would be less obvious over time. Furthermore, any delay might allow certain parties to threaten the victims against giving evidence,” said Suaram coordinator Chang Lih Kang.

On January 5, Suaram had written to Suhakam chairperson Abu Talib Othman, urging him to conduct the public inquiry.

The detention centre holds some 4,000 inmates detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.

The centre has been the subject of controversy due to it being overcrowded and unhygienic.

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