The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) wishes to refer to Mr P. Uthayakumar’s revelations of his imprisonment in Kajang Prison, and to state that, following a memorandum received from Persatuan Penasihat Pengguna-Pengguna Malaysia on 5 August 2013, concerning the alleged mistreatment of Mr. P. Uthayakumar in the Kajang Prison
OCTOBER 27 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) wishes to refer to Mr P. Uthayakumar’s revelations of his imprisonment in Kajang Prison, and to state that, following a memorandum received from Persatuan Penasihat Pengguna-Pengguna Malaysia on 5 August 2013, concerning the alleged mistreatment of Mr. P. Uthayakumar in the Kajang Prison, SUHAKAM investigated into the allegations and undertook several follow-up actions. These included a visit to Kajang Prison on 13 August 2013 to verify the complaints with relevant parties, an official letter to the Prison Department on 21 August 2013 concerning the issues highlighted in the memorandum, followed by a meeting with the Prison Department on 4 September 2013 to discuss among others, procedural issue related to written complaints received from inmates during SUHAKAM’s visits to prisons.
SUHAKAM has also taken a step further by undertaking a thematic study into the issue on the right to health in prison. The main objective of this study is to ensure that the conditions of prisons in the country are consistent with acceptable health and safety standards, and human dignity in order to achieve a criminal justice system that respects individual rights.
In undertaking this study, SUHAKAM has conducted special visits to prisons across the country to compile first hand data and information with regard to the issues faced by both inmates and prison staff. The methodology used in this study involved surveys through questionnaires and interviews with relevant respondents regarding access to medical care in prisons. SUHAKAM has visited thirteen (13) prisons – Kajang and Kajang Prison for Women, Sungai Buloh (Selangor), Taiping (Perak), Pengkalan Chepa (Kelantan), Tapah and Bentong (Pahang), Seremban (Negeri Sembilan), Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Limbang (Sarawak), as well as Kota Kinabalu (Sabah). To date, 4086 inmates, 646 staff and 37 medical assistants have been involved in the survey. The outcome report which contains findings and recommendations of this study will be submitted to the relevant authorities and the Government in accordance with SUHAKAM’s objective in this project, namely, to advocate for the improvement of the health standards in prisons across
Based on the periodic visits it has conducted in the past, SUHAKAM sees the need for further systematic and cohesive reforms to be instituted in our prisons in order to address various fundamental issues concerning medical care, including mental health care, for both staff and inmates, prison conditions, as well as working conditions of prison staff.
SUHAKAM is also pursuing with the Government further amendments to its founding legislation which, inter-alia, will empower it to conduct unscheduled visits to prisons and places of detention in Malaysia.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.