Despite the continued occurrences of custodial deaths, the federal government’scontinued refusal to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) headed by Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, is most disappointing and even irresponsible.
The main excuse given by the government is that the setting up of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is sufficient.
But time has proven that EAIC has failed to stop more custodial deaths from happening since it was set up in 2011.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 'No Answers, No Apology: Police Abuses and Accountability' report released in April this year in Kuala Lumpur revealed that just 7 percent of complaints against the police force between 2005 and 2012 reached a courtroom while more than half the cases has yet to be fully investigated.
From extrajudicial killings of teenagers to custodial deaths, threats to lawyers and assaults on journalists covering demonstrations, the report gives chilling and bloody first-person accounts of police abuse and misconduct.
The report without a doubt further showed the urgency of setting up an external oversight body like IPCMC.
But the government is still adamant in refusing to set up the IPCMC when such oversight body has been set up in many other countries.
It is no secret that the police leadership has always been opposing the setting up of the IPCMC.
Yesterday, inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said that the police were not in favour of the setting up of IPCMC last year because the terms in the proposal treated the force like second-class citizens.
He said the proposal gave members of the force no avenue for justice.
“For instance, in the proposal, a policeman picked up for corruption does not have the right to defend himself,” he was quoted as saying.
Was Khalid Abu Bakar saying that the police will support IPCMC formation if the required changes are made?
On June 29 last year, former IGP Musa Hassan called on the government to set up IPCMC after the Khalid Abu Bakar was ruled responsible for A Kugan’s death under custody.
In a landmark civil suit, the High Court had ruled that Khalid Abu Bakar, at that time the Selangor police chief, was liable to misfeasance in A Kugan’s death behind bars in 2009.
“You need monitoring, of course, on the police,” Musa was reported as saying. He also proposed that changes be made to allow appeal against IPCMC decisions.
What Khalid said yesterday was no different from what Musa said more than a year.
I wonder why it took Khalid Bakar more than a year to state his position.
Nevertheless, since Khalid has stated his position, I urge him to propose the necessary changes to the government and to express his full support for the immediate setting up of the long delayed IPCMC.
There need to be independent investigative body to look into complaints of wrong doings by the police. By establishing this like IPCMC it will enhance the confidence on the police and their investigations.
The bottom line is the police cannot and should not be given the exclusive monopoly of investigating their own wrongs. The police should not be judge, jury and prosecutor of complaints and wrong doings against its own personel.
M KULASEGARAN is DAP national vice-chairperson and MP for Ipoh Barat.