Malaysiakini Letter

Enforced disappearance: Respect freedom of religion as a human right

Council of Churches of Malaysia  |  Published:

LETTER | On April 3, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) delivered its decision in the public inquiry into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat and pastor Raymond Koh, both of whom were social workers who were targeted by various state actors for religious reasons prior to their disappearances on Nov 24, 2016 and Feb 13, 2017 respectively.

Suhakam’s decisions on both these cases were unanimous and clear: that Raymond and Amri were victims of enforced disappearance and that they were abducted by “state agents namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur”.

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) is thankful to Suhakam for conducting this inquiry with integrity, impartiality, transparency and courage.

Suhakam had to take this up in the absence of an impartial and serious investigation, which the Malaysian police should have conducted as part of their statutory duty to uphold law and order in this country.

This Suhakam investigation and inquiry process has been a vindication of the need for human rights to be placed at the forefront of all law and order matters in Malaysia.

Going forward, we urge the Malaysian government to pay heed to the recommendations made by Suhakam today, including:

  • Immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation into the Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat cases, free of conflict of interest;
  • Provide remedies to the families of Raymond and Amri, especially their right to know the truth about the fate and whereabouts of these two men;
  • Immediately take steps to clarify and separate the jurisdictions of the religious authorities and the Royal Malaysia Police;
  • Respect the freedom of religion as a fundamental human right;
  • Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Pakatan Harapan government in its manifesto for the 2018 general election had promised that the country will uphold the rule of law, and that all citizens will be treated equally before the law.

We call upon the prime minister to deliver on this promise and bring closure to this matter so that the families affected will find the justice they have been seeking for many years.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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