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Press Statement by Teresa Kok in Shah Alam on Wednesday, 4thMarch 2009:

Kugan mudered - bring the culprits to justice

I read the report of the second postmortem into the death of Kugan Ananthan when he was in the custody of the Malaysian police. I am filled with disgust and revulsion and shocked beyond words that human beings are capable of treating another fellow human being in such a cruel and heartless manner. That the torture was perpetrated by police officers who are sworn to uphold the law makes this a dastardly crime of the worst type that calls for swift and impartial justice.

There were even attempts at a cover up when reports initially quoted the police as claiming that there was no foul play in Kugan's death. This and the incomplete first postmortem may suggest an attempt to obstruct justice.

Since there is now evidence that Kugan died from the effects of the most horrific beatings, burning and starvation which impacted virtually all parts of his body and caused severe internal bleeding and breakdown of his tissues, it is time for a full and independent inquiry to establish the facts, to bring the culprits to justice and to ensure that such gross abuse of Malaysians' civil rights must never again be allowed to happen.

Kugan's death underscores the urgent need to reform the operations and procedures of the police and is yet another reason why an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is necessary.

Kugan's death is also a very poignant reminder that police reform is long overdue.

I call upon the Prime Minister to immediately take steps to implement all the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to expedite the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Background of the Royal Commission*

The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) was established by the King on 4 February 2004 under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1950. In its 576-page report, submitted to the Prime Minister on 29 April 2005, and which was publicly released on 12 June 2005, the Commission made 125 recommendations focusing on three main areas of reform - crime reduction, eradicating corruption and observing human rights in policing the country.

Among the key recommendations were:

Establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) aimed at dealing with complaints regarding the police and seeking to improve the professionalism of the force and to ensure that doctrines, laws, rules and procedures are observed and implemented by the police.

Establish reasonable grounds before arrest by carrying out test on informants’ allegation and surveillance before acting on a report of an alleged crime.

Substitute section 113 of CPC which allows any statement taken from a suspect in custody to be used as evidence in court with new provision that specify clear exceptions.

Record statements or confessions before magistrate pursuant to section 115 of CPC which allows for a right to a lawyer.

Make compliance with human rights and prescribed laws one of the three top priorities for PDRM.

Launch a human rights education and information initiative in PDRM.

Amend section 27 of the Police Act 1967 which emphasise the need to have a police permit to organise gatherings.

Amend section 73 of the Internal Security Act 1960 to allow a detained person to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours and be allowed access to family and lawyers and limit the detention period to a maximum of 30 days.

Amend section 3 of the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 to allow a detained person to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours and be allowed access to family and lawyers. The Commission also recommends limiting the detention period to a maximum of 30 days.

Repeal Restricted Residence Act 1933 that allows the preventive detention of suspected criminals in a specific residential area that may extend up to the lifetime of a person.

Repeal Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969.

Partially repeal the Prevention of Crime Act 1959.

Amend section 117 CPC to allow for a maximum of 7 days for an arrest without warrant and not more than 24 hours for arrest with warrant and be allowed access to a lawyer and in cases where there is no lawyer present, the magistrate must enquire from a detainee if he wishes to make any complaint regarding his arrest and detention.

Adopt code of practice relating to the arrest and detention of persons.

Conduct inquiries into all cases of custodial deaths and make the process more expeditious, transparent and accountable.

Enhance Special Branch accountability with its powers and responsibilities spelt out in law so that it can function impartially and independently and to clearly define the term security to avoid misconception and abuse of power.

(*excerpt from Amnesty International Malaysia statement dated 31 May 2007)

* Teresa Kok, DAP National Organising Secretary & Selangor State Senior EXCO; MP for Seputeh



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