PM, Home Minister & IGP must meet families of custodial deaths to give them answers: MP Kasthuri Patto

Media statement by Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP Kasthuri Patto on Friday 28th May 2021 in Penang:

Are hidden hands preventing the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) from independently investigating custodial deaths?

3 weeks and 3 deaths of Malaysians held in police custody. A. Ganapathy, 40 on April 18th 2021, S. Sivabalan, 43 on 20th May and the most recent S. Surendran, 21 on 27th May 2021. These men died under questionable circumstances within 40 days. Ganapathy suffered visible injuries on his legs and had one amputated, Sivabalan’s death due to a heart attack according to the police but was informed hours later, and Surendran, a healthy man who died due to “septic shock with multiple organ failure”.

In Malaysia to date, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is the sole body to investigate any misconduct or abuses of power by the police, immigration and other agencies. It was established by an Act of Parliament in 2009 and came into effect in 2011 to replace the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission Bill 2005.

As it was established by an Act of Parliament, it is rightfully so that Members of Parliament are privy to the findings of the investigation and not for an internal investigation by the police themselves.

Is the EAIC launching an investigation into the 3 custodial deaths that happened within 40 days? Or are there any hidden hands that are preventing the EAIC from independently investigating these deaths?

There must be no stumbling block whether from within or out to influence, pressure, divert and determine the outcome of the investigations by the EAIC into these deaths.

Ditch the defensive attitude on custodial deaths and address it with the seriousness that a life was lost under the authority of the police. The police cannot be the only body to investigate a wrongdoing, a rape or a death in their custody.

When Pakatan Harapan was in power and the bill for IPCMC was tabled in Parliament, there was a great opposition by MPs from the then Opposition citing that it was unconstitutional and it demoralised the police and that internal investigations by the police is acceptable, including on the role of the EAIC.

Where are the voices of the MPs now with 3 custodial deaths within 40 days?

In my visit to the Metropolitan Police Station in Charing Cross, UK many years ago to look at the conditions of the holding cells, body cameras used by the officers and the working conditions of the police officers, I discovered through a “notice to a detained person” in the police station, every person brought in, if unwell or injured must inform the police and a nurse or doctor will be called to inspect the detainee. Detainees are fed 3 times a day with drinks in between meals. They are rightfully allowed to inform their families where they are, they are allowed to look at the Codes of Police, they are allowed a translator, they should be allowed to contact their embassies, they must be told of their offence and the reason they are arrested and they are also allowed to see records and documents on the arrest and even about their time in the station.

All this for free. Does this happen here?

Two days ago, President Biden met with the family of George Floyd who died due to abuse of power by rogue cops. He acknowledged the violation of oath by law enforcement officers and pledged his support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress and that legislators from both sides would support the bill.

The Prime Minister, Home Minister and the IGP must meet the families of these deaths in custody with their lawyers and give them the answers they need.

Kasthuri Patto
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan

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