After calls for RCI, Suhakam moots creation of judicial ombudsman

Modified 20 Feb 2019, 11:27 am

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has proposed the creation of a judicial ombudsman in the wake of shocking allegations of misconduct in the judiciary.

Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail's call was made in support of proposals for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) over the allegations made by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer last week.

"The outcome of the RCI must contain actionable recommendations that will assist in a systemic change, as the rule of law will not exist even in 'Malaysia Baru' unless there is an independent and impartial judiciary to protect it.

"Suhakam recommends the creation of a judicial ombudsman with an effective complaints handling structure that may investigate any allegation of misconduct of judges and/or judicial officers," he said in a statement today.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would discuss calls to set up an RCI on the alleged judicial interference.

Hamid's allegations were recorded in a 63-page affidavit filed in support of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo's suit against the chief justice for failing to defend the integrity of the judiciary over two alleged incidents of interference.

In the affidavit, Hamid claimed that certain members of the judiciary aided private parties to defraud the government.

Eroding trust

Commenting further, Suhakam noted that overall trust in the judiciary had eroded since the 1988 judicial crisis, during which six Supreme Court judges lost their seats on the bench.

"Suhakam believes remedial steps, including punitive action where the investigations reveal sufficient evidence, must be taken so that any reputational damage and erosion in the trust of the Judiciary that is believed to have begun in 1988, will be corrected.

"This is as the judiciary is a key institution in ensuring that the rights of all peoples are protected," he said.

Razali also urged the police and the MACC to investigate Hamid's claims of judicial misconduct, as well as to determine if criminal charges should be brought against the alleged wrongdoers.

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