KUALA LUMPUR: Taken to task for failing to stop police brutality, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today it has been hamstrung by a lack of enforcement powers.
“Although Suhakam has come out with a number of recommendations that are aimed at improving the human rights situation in the country, it lacks authority to compel the relevant agency to implement its recommendations,” Chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said in a statement to The Malay Mail Online.
He added that none of the commission’s annual reports had been debated in parliament
His remarks were in response to the Human Rights’ Watch (HRW) report yesterday that called out Suhakam and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) for their failure to monitor police abuses.
The international rights’ advocacy group said the agencies meant to safeguard against police misconduct are hobbled by inadequate resources and cooperation.
“Malaysia’s police are not accountable to anyone but themselves, and ordinary people across the country too often pay the price with broken bodies and tragically shortened lives,” HRW’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.
“The Malaysian government needs to put in place effective oversight of the police to end the wrongful deaths, preventable abuse in custody, and excessive use of force on the streets,” he added.
Hasmy also said there should be further amendments to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act to broaden its mandate and functions as an effective national human rights institution.
“The commission also deems it important for the government to ensure the early establishment of a permanent Parliamentary Select Committee on human rights to enable broader exchange of views among Parliamentarians on the findings and recommendations highlighted in the commission’s annual reports and other reports,” he added.
Last June, the federal government’s revealed that 231 custodial deaths occurred between January 2000 and May 2013, with only two officially found to have been caused by the police force.
In its report, HRW also accused Putrajaya and the police of abdicating their responsibility by failing to make the “policy changes necessary to ensure effective oversight and accountability in cases of wrongful deaths, mistreatment in custody, and excessive use of force”.
The 102-page report repeated the suggestion for a panel similar to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), which was proposed by a royal commission chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah in 2005.