Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Friday, 30th January 2009:
Abuse of power and torture - moves from PDRM to MACC. What do we do?
Before the gory images of brutal lacerations and deep cuts on Kugan Anathan's body fade from our minds, we are confronted with another abuse under detention. This time around it involves the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Halimi Kamaruzzaman has lodged a police report stating he was forced to strip naked, lie and roll on the floor. An officer has threatened to burn him with a cigarette on his private part. According to the police report, he was choked against a wall, punched in the stomach and head and kicked in the ribs and knee.
If this is not shocking enough, Halimi has also reported that an officer threatened to strip his wife naked if he refused to confess about handing money to UMNO members.
The commission officials cannot use a high-profile investigation of money politics involving an UMNO politician aspiring to be elected to the party's Supreme Council in March to justify inflicting torture on Halimi.
This is clearly an abuse of power.
When asked about his aspirations for the Anti-Corruption Commission, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he hoped for the body to be effective and subjected to independent monitoring through a comprehensive check-and-balance system.
Halimi's ordeal succinctly demonstrates the complete opposite.
Malaysians are still reeling from shock from the grotesque behaviour of the police force. Kugan's death in police custody, the rallying cry of Francis Udayappan's mother and Prabhakar's scalded body helped bring to the surface the physical abuses suffered by detainees in the country.
According to statistics released in Parliament last year, there has been 1535 custodial deaths from 2003 - 2007.
Where do we go from here?
First, the government must make a concerted effort to implement the IPCMC. The watered-down Special Complaints Commission will not address the serious problems at hand.
The government must take steps to codify and make into law, the rights of a detainee from the time he is arrested till he is charged in court. There must be a custody officer who will be in charge of the well-being of the detainees.
Specific details on the duration of interrogation, methods of interrogation, the number of hours detainees can go without food and water and the provision of basic necessities for detainees must be clearly stipulated and incorporated into the Criminal Procedure Code.
Failure to do so will only provide the opportunity for more cases of custodial violence and death to keep occurring in the country.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang