Media Statement – 10/8/2020
End Discrimination in the Administration of Criminal Justice in Malaysia
Lock-Up and Prison Reforms, including overcrowding
and pre-conviction detention, cannot be delayed
MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is appalled with the discrimination in the administration of justice, overcrowding of Malaysian prisons and lock-up conditions as recently again disclosed by Lim Guan Eng after he spent overnight in the lock-up.
Lock-Up and Prison Reforms
Lim Guan Eng was reported saying, “I had to change to the SPRM (MACC) orange T-shirt and slept on the wooden floor in the small lock-up (no pillow, no mattress),…”(Malaysiakini, 8/8/2020). It seems that he may be alone in the lock-up during his detention, but the norm is far worse when many are detained together in a single lock-up.
The conditions these suspects, not even accused persons, face in some of these lock-ups whilst under remand may be far worse even when compared to conditions of prison cells, which houses the convicted. Prison cells, for example, have beds, but not the case for lock-ups.
Repeated calls for reforms and improvement of Malaysian lock-ups and prison conditions, have yet to be addressed by the government, be it the past Barisan Nasional government, the Pakatan Harapan plus government or even the present Perikatan government.
Discrimination of victims of the Administration of Criminal Justice must end
Lim Guan Eng highlighted the differential treatment by the authorities compared to the treatment accorded to others prominent persons like the former premier Najib Razak.
Special treatment accorded to some politicians or personalities, however, is not the issue, but the discrimination against every other persons in Malaysia, who during investigation are forced to spend days in remand, staying in lock-ups which are sub-standard detention places compared to international standards and best practices.
When some of the recent politicians and prominent personalities, are being investigated, many are not even remanded, which means they do not have to spend days in police lock-ups, suffering not just deprivation of freedoms but also being subjected to poor living conditions in police lock-ups.
No remand is needed for the police or enforcement agencies to complete their investigations. Persons suspected of crimes can simply be asked to turn up at particular times for purpose of investigations. If, and only if, they refuse to corporate, will there be any justification for remand – requiring them to be detained and kept in police lock-ups during investigations.
Malaysian Prisons Department Deputy Director-general (Security and Correctional) Datuk Alzafry Mohamed Alnassif Mohamed Adahan, was recently reported saying that there are currently ‘68,000 prison inmates are currently housed in 42 prisons nationwide…’ and that this ‘…number exceeded the prescribed capacity of 52,000…“The number consists of 54,508 locals and 14,095 foreigners. Occupancy is increasing and if you follow the trend, the number will not decrease,“ he said…’(Sun Daily, 8/8/2020)
The then Minister responsible under the previous PH government, Datuk Liew Vui Keong also talked about prison overcrowding. ‘Speaking on the severity of prison overcrowding here, Liew noted that one prison made prisoners sleep in shifts to mitigate….This was due to lack of beds for a 10-person cell housing 20 prisoners, forcing them to take turns with 10 to stand while the other 10 sleep, he said.’(Malay Mail, 9/3/2019). At time, it was said that ‘…Malaysia could only accommodate a maximum of 45,000 prisoners, but said the current number of prisoners has reached over 66,000…’
Besides, the issue of human rights violations, the other concern is the financial implications to Malaysians. In 2019, the then Minister said that the ‘…daily cost for a prisoner ranges from RM38 to RM41,…’. This means that the minimum daily cost involved for the 65,222 prisoners would be at least over RM2.4 million…’. Likewise, Malaysians will be paying when persons are remanded in lock-ups for the purpose of investigations.
According to the World Prison Brief, who claims data obtained from the Malaysian government, a large number of persons detained in Malaysian prisons are not persons already convicted and serving out their sentence. ‘In 2015, for example, there were a total of 51,602 persons in Malaysian prisons, and about 25.8% (13,000) of them were remand pre-trial prisoners.’ These pre-trial detainees would include those poor that cannot afford bail and others who were denied bail, which would include those charged with one of the many offences listed under SOSMA.
Pre-conviction Detention and delayed trials can cause the innocent to plead guilty
Pre-conviction detention or punishment is unjust, a violation of human rights. Article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” Punishment should best come only after one is convicted and sentenced by court after a fair trial.
Pre-conviction detention, with an uncertainty of when the trial will end, may even cause many an innocent person to simply plead guilty, for then, they can be certain as to when they will be freed to resume normal life.
After all, unlike the ‘richer’ accused, the possibility of an agreement with the prosecution to discontinue criminal proceedings if they return the fruits of their crime and/or part of it, this possibility is almost non-existent for ordinary accused.
Compensation for innocent for the detention suffered and other consequences
Malaysia needs a law that provides for compensation to innocent victims of criminal justice system, who are ultimately found not guilty and also those remanded who are never even charged. They justly must be compensated for the deprivation of liberty, loss of income and other negative consequences of detention. Thailand today have an act which addresses this, being the Damages for the Injured Person and. Compensation and Expense for the Accused in Criminal Case Act, B.E. 2544.
Such laws may also deter abuse of the powers by law enforcers, and may reduce unnecessary remand or other pre-conviction detentions.
- Calls for the end of discrimination of the victims of the administration of justice system in Malaysia;
- Calls for an improvement and reform of lock-up and prison conditions to be in compliance with international standards and best practice;
- Calls for an end of the practice of remanding suspects for the purpose of investigations, safe for very serious crimes and for justified reasons of fear of absconding;
- Calls for the immediate release of all prisoners, who have yet to be tried and convicted, safe for those who have committed very serious crimes and/or have a high justifiable flight risk,
- Calls for speedy trials, for all the yet to be convicted in Malaysian prisons, which should end not later than 6 months;
- Call for Malaysia to introduce laws that will provide for just compensations to those who have been deprived their freedoms and rights, by reason of detention and otherwise, who are ultimately not convicted and/or found to be not guilty, and/or those that have not been even charged after spending days in remand;
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
KAJANG: About 68,000 prison inmates are currently housed in 42 prisons nationwide, according to Malaysian Prisons Department deputy director-general (Security and Correctional) Datuk Alzafry Mohamed Alnassif Mohamed Adahan.
He said the number was increasing every year, and for this year, the influx of new residents decreased due to the reduced crime cases as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic pandemic.
Without furnishing further details, he said, although, the latest number exceeded the prescribed capacity of 52,000, the prisons were able to accommodate them currently.
“The number consists of 54,508 locals and 14,095 foreigners. Occupancy is increasing and if you follow the trend, the number will not decrease,“ he said.
He said this to Bernama in conjunction with the Bank Rakyat Sinar Aidiladha Programme contribution presentation ceremony at the Kajang Prison Headquarters Auditorium, here today.
In another development, Alzafry Mohamed Alnassif said the department always practiced physical distancing and complied with the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the government to break the Covid-19 epidemic chain.
“The prisons always practice the prescribed SOP so that there are no unwanted incidents and are careful in accepting new inmates, including the presence of the public,“ he said.
He said new inmates would be quarantined in a special designated block upon admission and the prisons would conduct an examination first before they were allowed to be placed with other inmates.
“If these inmates are found to be unwell, the Prisons Department will contact the Ministry of Health or the nearest hospital for further action,“ he said.
In early June, Bernama reported that a non-citizen prison inmate, an illegal immigrant at the Sungai Buloh prison, was confirmed positive for Covid-19.
Earlier, Bank Rakyat donated 34 cows worth RM166,600 to 1,830 frontline staff and zakat recipients in conjunction with the Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration. - Bernama - Sun Daily, 8/8/2020
Slept on wooden floor, no mattress or pillow - Guan Eng recounts night in lock-up
Lim Guan Eng had to sleep on a wooden floor after he was detained overnight in the lock-up of the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya.
The former finance minister (above, left) recounted his ordeal in a Facebook post late last night.
He also claimed that his predecessor, Najib Abdul Razak, did not receive the same treatment when the latter was arrested in relation to the SRC International and 1MDB scandals.
“I had to change to the SPRM (MACC) orange T-shirt and slept on the wooden floor in the small lock-up (no pillow, no mattress), unlike my predecessor who did not spend a single night in the lock-up.
“Whether this is double-standard or not, only MACC can answer,” he added.
Meanwhile, the DAP secretary-general said he was upset upon learning that his wife, Betty Chew, was also arrested by the MACC in Penang yesterday, fearing that she too would have to spend the night in the lock-up.
Lim said his wife was detained although she had nothing to do with the Penang undersea tunnel project or government matters.
“I was relieved she was released,” he added.
'They know where it hurts most'
Lim, who had served as Penang chief minister before assuming the post of a federal minister after Pakatan Harapan won the last general election, reiterated his claim of being a victim of political persecution.
“PN (Perikatan Nasional government) going after me with baseless charges is to be expected. After all, this unelected government needs to reinforce its slim parliamentary majority.
“But to go for my wife, who even though a lawyer, does not enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, shows that they know how to hit you where you helplessly hurt most,” he added.
Yesterday, Lim claimed trial to a charge of soliciting a bribe with regard to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. He has since been released on bail.
The opposition leader is also expected to face additional charges on Aug 10 and 11 at the Penang Sessions Court.
Meanwhile, his wife would be charged at the Butterworth Sessions Court on Tuesday under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing, and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (Amla) Act.
Najib in lock-up?
Yesterday, MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki told Malaysiakini that Lim was not the first politician to be detained overnight and defended his officers' actions.
listed Najib as among the prominent politicians who had been detained
overnight by the commission before being produced in court, though it is
unclear if Najib had also spent the night in a lock-up.
He said the decision to arrest a suspect is up to the discretion of an investigating officer and is provided for under the law.
Najib has earlier claimed that he did not spend a night in the lock-up before he was brought to the court to be charged.
"I was not in the lock-up. I was in the MACC building," he told journalists after posting bail on Sept 20, 2018, for money laundering and power abuse charges involving 1MDB.
However, in a Facebook post yesterday, Najib claimed that he spent two nights in the MACC lock-up. Malaysiakini is seeking further clarification from the former premier regarding this. - Malaysiakini, 8/8/2020
Minister: Putrajaya aims to reduce prison population, not build more jails
KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The government wants to lower convict numbers instead of building more prisons to accommodate them, Datuk Liew Vui Keong has said.
Liew noted that prisons nationwide were now over capacity, but reportedly said the government does not plan to construct more as this was not part of the government's key performance indicators (KPI).
“Our goal is to implement effective measures to reduce the number of prisoners, not to build more prisons, we are prepared to actively push for awareness activities, to advise youths to stay away from drugs, while at the same time guide convicts to return to the straight path through community reform programmes,” the minister in charge of legal affairs was quoted saying yesterday by local daily Sin Chew Daily.
Liew said the prisons in Malaysia could only accommodate a maximum of 45,000 prisoners, but said the current number of prisoners has reached over 66,000.
“Among the prisoners are drug offenders exceeding 46,000 people, amounting for 56 per cent. There are 1,281 prisoners on death row, among them 932 are drug traffickers, the other 300-odd includes the 19 who were involved in the Lahad Datu intrusion incident,” he also said.
Speaking on the severity of prison overcrowding here, Liew noted that one prison made prisoners sleep in shifts to mitigate.
This was due to lack of beds for a 10-person cell housing 20 prisoners, forcing them to take turns with 10 to stand while the other 10 sleep, he said.
During parliamentary debate on October 30, 2018, Liew had said that there were 65,222 convicts in prison, with about 36,313 or 55 per cent who were drug offenders.
Citing statistics from the prison authorities, Liew said that the daily cost for a prisoner ranges from RM38 to RM41, inclusive of cost for amenities and prison officer wages.
This means that the minimum daily cost involved for the 65,222 prisoners would be at least over RM2.4 million. - Malay Mail,9/3/2019
See related posts:-
68 year old Singaporean sues Malaysia's Immigration Dept for RM2.67m over 'inhuman’/wrongful detention? Time for prison reforms?
71.3 percent(?) of those in prison are Malays when only about 50% Malays in Malaysia - UMNO-BN failure?