Friday, January 25, 2013

Death In Custody - No justice unless there is independence and fear is extinguished

What is needed is prompt independent investigations - and somehow the police themselves cannot do this especially when police officers are the alleged perpetrators...

Sadly, also is that many coroners, public servants,... even magistrates and judges are biased in favour of the authorities, governed by a mindset that the police can do no wrong ...or that if there was a wrong-doing, it was a 'reasonable' mistake - hence that kind of attitude affects their investigations, medical examinations, autopsies, decisions, judgments..

Things must change, and it is time for truth and justice to prevail. Let's realize that there are GOOD police and there are rotten apple - it does no good to protect the 'bad ones' or cover up actions that were not just legally, but also morally wrong. We need to 'clean up' the police,... Sometimes, when it comes to the police, 'fear' still plays a part in the minds of doctors, medical examiners and even coroners - and this must end. Be truthful.. just let the truth surface...

 See earlier post:-

Sugumar's family wants prompt second autopsy

Unconvinced that 39-year-old Sugumar Chelliah had mysteriously dropped dead of a heart attack after being pursued by the police, his family is determined on a second autopsy to get to the truth.

NONEWhen contacted, one of the family’s lawyers Latheefa Koya (right) said the family hopes to get the second autopsy done as soon as possible.

"We are definitely arranging a second post-mortem. We are looking for another hospital and a pathologist  who will be willing to do it. We are not sure when ... hopefully today," she said.

Latheefa added that the family was unconvinced with the first post-mortem by Serdang Hospital as the institution had a history of falsifying the post-mortem report as in the death-in-custody case of A Kugan.

In Sugumar's case, Serdang Hospital’s post-mortem concluded he died as a result of a blockage in heart and that no other injuries were found on his body.

Witnesses, however, claim that Sugumar, a security guard, was pursued by four police officers for damaging pubic property, and was subsequently handcuffed, his face smeared with turmeric powder  and  beaten to death  in which a mob joined in at Taman Pekaka, Hulu Langat.

Police cite witnesses denying beatings

In a report today, pro-government daily Utusan Malaysia quoted Selangor CID chief SAC Mohd Adnan Abdullah as saying that they had taken the statements of 11 witnesses, 10 of whom claimed that the alleged beating by the police did not take place.

NONE"One more witness was a victim who had his head knocked by the suspect (Sugumar)," Utusan quoted Mohd Adnan saying.

In response, Latheefa pointed out there were at least three witnesses who had observed the incident but the police have yet to record their statements.

Asked if they will voluntarily come forward to the police, Latheefa said, "With this kind of pressure, I am not sure if they are willing to go on their own. But we will try to get their cooperation."

She also criticised the police for declaring their personnel innocence even before a thorough investigation has been conducted.

"It looks very biased, we can't rely on such an investigation. We demand that the inspector-general of police prepare an independent team instead of repeating that they (police) are innocent," she said.

‘Police foil report lodging’

She disputed the police’s explanation of Sugumar's death, pointing out they have yet to explain the traces of turmeric powder found on the victim’s face, allegedly smeared by one of their personnel.

Latheefa added that the family yesterday attempted to lodge a police report on the matter at the Kajang district police headquarters, but their efforts were frustrated.

"The police made an issue out of it, limiting the number of the people who could go into the police station, and the OCPD did not want to cooperate.

"It was probably because the officers involved are from the same district, but the family will lodge a police report soon at another location," she said.- Malaysiakini, 26/1/2013, Sugumar's family wants prompt second autopsy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Again death in police hands - chased,handcuffed, smeared with tumeric, beaten to death...

'Cops smear turmeric, fatally beat guard'

Four policemen are alleged to have chased after, handcuffed and then smeared turmeric powder on the face of a security guard, before beating him to death together with a mob at Taman Pekaka, Hulu Langat yesterday.

The body of the victim Sugumar Chelliah, 40, is currently at Serdang hospital with his hands still handcuffed, claimed PKR human rights and legal bureau chief Latheefa Koya when contacted this afternoon.

NONELatheefa (left), who is at the hospital with Sugumar's family, said they are still waiting for the preliminary findings of the post-mortem.

She claimed that family members had been waiting to see the body after receiving a call from the police at 11.30pm last night informing them about Sugumar’s death.
Latheefa, who claims to have spoken to a person alleging to have witnessed the incident, said it took place at around 6.30pm yesterday.

According to her further, the eyewitness claimed police pursued the victim near to a cemetery there.

However, it was still not known why the deceased was being chased by police in the first place.
“He was beaten, handcuffed and one of the police personnel took out turmeric powder and more (beating) by 10 to 20 people.

“Police then brought a stretcher and covered the body with the stretcher,” he said.

She added that the deceased is believed to have been left by the roadside since his death at around 7pm till about 11pm, when a police forensic team arrived at the scene and took the his body to Serdang Hospital.

Hospital staff called police

PKR deputy human rights and legal bureau deputy chairperson S Jayathas, who was also at the hospital today, said a disturbance occured outside the morgue when hospital staff refused to allow Sugumar’s family to identify his body.

He claimed the situation became tense after the hospital counter staff refused to entertain family members who had arrived there, and instead called the police to handle the matter.

“The counter staff all went inside (the hospital). They called six security guards and around 20 police personnel, including four with M-16 rifles, to stand guard,” he said.

NONEHe added that at first, the investigating officer only permitted one family member to identify the body.

However, after discussing the matter with laywer N Surendran (left in photo), police allowed Surendran, Kapar MP Manickavasagam and four relations to see the body, Jayathas said.

Accoording to him, Manickavasagam established that the victim was still in handcuffs.

Latheefa said she, together with the deceased’s family, will determine the next course of action in a few hours times, after first studying the post-mortem findings.

“We urge the immediate suspension of all (police) involved and the arrests of those involved in the beating. This (case) must be classified as murder and an independent investigation be carried out,” she added.- Malaysiakini,
'Cops smear turmeric, fatally beat guard' 24/1/2013,

Friday, January 11, 2013

And another police shoot to kill incident....

After, these persons are shot dead, the Malaysian police try to prejudice the public by painting a negative picture of the dead victims, who after all cannot anymore defend themselves. What about the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law? 

Independent panel to investigate police shoot to kill incident is NEEDED

Two of seven escaped detainees shot dead
The police shot dead two of seven escaped detainees in a shootout today after they attempted to slip through a dragnet and get out of Penang.

Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the dead men were Mohd Fairuz Adam, who was also known as Joe Mafia, and Mohd Noor Mustafa, a member of the Joe Mafia gang.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that they had attempted to flee the state," he told reporters at Bukit Mertajam.

He said the car they were traveling in, and the pistols they had used had been obtained from members of the Joe Mafia gang still at large.

Abdul Rahim said the police received a tip-off at 12.30pm that the two detainees were in the Kubang Semang area and began tailing them 15 minutes later.

"The police ordered them to stop their car, but they refused and sped off towards Kampung Padang Ibu near Kampung Pelet.

"They drove onto a side lane with the police giving chase, for up to three kilometres. Then the police shot at the car's tyres, forcing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and subsequently crashed into a canal.

"The two men started firing at the police and a shootout occurred," he said.   

He also said that the police had received a tip-off that a third detainee was seen buying food at a petrol kiosk along the Kulim-Butterworth highway near Bukit Mertajam at about 2am.

Abdul Rahim said the seven detainees moved about in two groups, one comprising the two Joe Mafia gang members who were shot dead today, and the other comprising the remaining five.

"We advise those still at large to give themselves up," he said.

Abdul Rahim said the police had launched a massive hunt for the five other detainees by deploying 250 personnel from the air unit and the General Operations Force as well.

He advised the people not to shelter the detainees, saying that they could be charged with harbouring criminals.

"Police investigation showed that members of the public had given them food such as bread. We hope the public will cooperate with the police," he said.

At about 9am on Monday, nine detainees being transported in a police van from the Penang prison to the courts complex in Butterworth caused a commotion, blinding the escorting policemen with curry powder when they stopped the vehicle to investigate at the outer ring road, then beating them up before fleeing with the van.

Two of the nine were arrested as they stood by the van which was abandoned in Kampung Padang Chempedak, Tasek Gelugor. The other seven fled towards an oil palm plantation in Ara Kuda.

- Bernama

Thursday, January 03, 2013

UNGA 2012 Resolution: Moratorium on the use of the death penalty

Moratorium on the use of the death penalty

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 

Reaffirming its resolutions 62/149 of 18 December 2007, 63/168 of 18 December 2008 and 65/206 of 21 December 2010 on the question of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, in which the General Assembly called upon States that still maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it, 

Welcoming Human Rights Council decision 18/117 of 28 September 2011,

Mindful that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable,

Convinced that a moratorium on the use of the death penalty contributes to respect for human dignity and to the enhancement and progressive development of  human rights, and considering that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty,

Noting ongoing local and national debates and regional initiatives on the death penalty, as well as the readiness of an increasing number of Member States to make available to the public information on the use of the death penalty, 

Noting also the technical cooperation among Member States in relation to moratoriums on the death penalty,
1. Expresses its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty;

2. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of  resolution 65/2065 and the recommendations contained therein; 

3. Also welcomes the steps taken by some Member States to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed and the decisions made by an increasing number of States, at all levels of Government, to apply a moratorium on executions, followed in many cases by the abolition of the death penalty;
4. Calls upon all States: 

(a) To respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984, as well as to provide the Secretary-General with information in this regard;

(b) To make available relevant information with regard to their use of the death penalty, inter alia, the number of persons sentenced to death, the number of persons on death row and the number of executions carried out, which can contribute to possible informed and transparent national and international debates, including on the obligations of States pertaining to the use of the death penalty; 

(c) To progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not to impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age and on pregnant women;

(d) To reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed;

(e) To establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

5. Calls upon States which have abolished the death penalty not to reintroduce it, and encourages them to share their experience in this regard; 

6. Also calls upon States that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session on the implementation of the present resolution; 

8. Decides to continue consideration of the matter at its sixty-ninth session under the item entitled “Promotion and protection of human rights”. 

This Resolution was passed and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 0n 20/12/2012.

Source of the full text of the Resolution - UN Organisation - Documents, see Annex at pages 130 - 131.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Malaysian Bar :- End Deaths in Police Custody Now

Press Release: End Deaths in Police Custody Now!

Wednesday, 02 January 2013 11:20am
The Malaysian Bar is once again appalled and deeply troubled that yet another person has died in police custody.  32-year old K Nagarajan was found dead on 24 Dec 2012, before his scheduled court appearance, after having spent three nights in the Dang Wangi police station lock-up.  According to the police, he died from a fall, but his family reportedly found inexplicable injuries on his body.

It is shocking that individuals continue to die in such highly suspicious circumstances while under the care of the police, which raises very alarming questions about the treatment of detainees in police custody and the methods of interrogation used.

The duty of the police is set out in very clear terms in the leading judgment of Lord Bingham of Cornhill in Amin, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2003] 4 All ER 1264, where Lord Bingham said:

. . . a state must not unlawfully take life and must take appropriate legislative and administrative steps to protect it.  But the duty does not end there.  The state owes a particular duty to those involuntarily in its custody. . . . Such persons must be protected against violence or abuse at the hands of state agents.  They must be protected against self-harm. . . . Reasonable care must be taken to safeguard their lives and persons against the risk of foreseeable harm.  
Death in custody, especially under dubious conditions, is among the worst crimes one can imagine in a civilised society under the rule of law.  The burden of proving that such a death did not occur by foul means must surely fall squarely on the law enforcement agency in question.  The reasons are plain: the victim was being held in isolation and was wholly within the control of the detaining authority; rarely are there independent witnesses to such a crime, as the witnesses are generally interested parties or persons under enquiry; and the police adhere to a strict chain of command code and are bound by a “blue wall of silence”.

Based on the statistics disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 156 persons died in police custody between 2000 and February 2011, and this was reportedly at least the sixth incident of custodial death at the hands of the police in 2012.  Such tragedies underscore the dire need for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct.  K Nagarajan’s death is inexcusable, and is another incident demonstrating that the police are unable to police themselves. 

The Malaysian Bar calls for an immediate inquest into the incident, which is a matter of utmost public interest and warrants the highest level of priority.  Although Chapter XXXII of the Criminal Procedure Code requires that all custodial deaths be investigated by way of inquest, no inquest is held in most instances.  Every death in custody must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  K Nagarajan’s death must not be relegated to a mere statistic.
The Malaysian Bar also calls on the authorities to urgently implement structural reform, where inquests are concerned.  Recent enquiries into deaths of persons that occur whilst in the custody of, or in or around the premises of, law enforcement agencies, have resulted in “open” verdicts.  

The Malaysian Bar thus urges the Government to introduce a Coroners’ Act, and establish a Coroners’ Court with the following features:
(1) A clearly-stated aim, which will focus on identifying the deceased and ascertaining how, when and where the person died;

(2) The creation of an official position of a State Coroner, and Coroners.  These are appointed by the Prime Minister upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice.  The State Coroner must be a Sessions Court Judge, ie a more senior position than that of a Magistrate, who currently conducts the inquests; 

(3) The Coroner would be responsible for supervising investigations by the police, ensuring that all relevant evidence is gathered, presiding over enquiries, and making findings; and

(4) The specific use of pathologists and forensic pathologists.  Only pathologists, or medical practitioners supervised by pathologists, may conduct post-mortems.

It is also disquieting that, in the case of K Nagarajan’s arrest, the protocol prescribed under the Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kebangsaan (“YBGK”) scheme does not appear to have been complied with.  The guidelines for enforcement officers provide that as soon as an arrest has been made, and before the suspect is questioned, the officer must inform the suspect’s family (or friend) regarding the arrest, and must also provide details regarding the arrest and the suspect to YBGK.  However, K Nagarajan’s family has reportedly stated that they were not informed about the arrest, and YBGK did not receive any notification.

K Nagarajan’s tragic fate is the latest in a deplorable string of deaths occurring in the context of investigations carried out by law enforcement agencies.  It must be the last.  The Malaysian Government must act now.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to K Nagarajan’s family and friends.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar
2 January 2013