This is a part of Malaysiakini's special feature on deaths in police custody. For the full story, visit this link.
SPECIAL REPORT | S Balamurugan, P Karuna Nithi, N Dharmendran – these are some of the people who made headlines when they perished in police custody before they had their day in court.
Stereotypically, Indian Malaysians are often portrayed as the most vulnerable while in police detention.
An analysis by Malaysiakini based on data collected by human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) shows that the majority of deaths in police custody reported in the media and to Suaram feature Indians.
However, the same analysis has found that there is massive underreporting of deaths in police custody in the media, particularly those involving Malays.
Overall, there were 257 deaths in police custody between 2002 and 2016, according to official statistics provided by the Home Ministry in a parliamentary reply on March 28, 2017.
However, Suaram said it only received reports of 62 of these cases, all of which were reported in the media.
This means that only about one in four cases of deaths in police custody become public knowledge, while the rest go largely unnoticed.
Reasons for underreporting
The lack of overall publicity for deaths in police custody can be attributed to a number of factors.
Commissioner Jerald Joseph of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) explained that both Suaram and Suhakam typically receive reports of deaths in police custody when family members sound the alarm by reporting to either organisation or to the media.
One possible cause of underreporting is a victim’s lack of contactable family members. “Some of them don’t have any family members… if nobody is there to be the voice, then who is going to check on that (the victim’s death)?” Joseph said.
He also said many people could be unaware of what could be done to further investigate a death in police custody and which organisations to reach out to for help.
"There is a group of people who do not know the likes of Suaram or NGOs or Suhakam, or EAIC (the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission) for that matter. There is a group of Malaysians who do not know we exist, and that’s a given...
Read the full story, click this link.
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
Decisions which lead to a healthy, robust nation - ours!
Keep the truth alive. Support your robust, independent media. You have the unrestrained power to do so.
Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
The Rakyat owns Malaysiakini
We choose to take a risk on independent media because we believe that only through independent reporting can one be NOT beholden to the interest of businesses or organisations. This allows us to really pursue the truth - aggressively.
Independent for 20 years.
The victorious people
In the light of holding the truth to power, Malaysiakini will continue to uphold its mission of providing credible news to its discerning public. Your support for Malaysiakini is always treasured as a testament of innate nationalism. Your victory is our history.
Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.