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Enforced disappearances: Be truthful in revealing ‘missteps’, police told

Published:  |  Modified:

NGOs have called on police to be truthful in revealing its missteps under “forced coercion” following the outcome of the public inquiry into the disappearances of two activists several years ago.

In a joint statement, Patriot and G25 said this was needed so that the integrity of the police force could be maintained in moving forward.

This, after police reputation took a beating when the Special Branch unit was yesterday fingered by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) as being behind the “enforced disappearances” of Amri Che Mat and pastor Raymond Koh.

Patriot is an organisation representing armed forces and police veterans, while G25 comprises retired top civil servants.

“We urge the police to be magnanimous, to be open and truthful. Revealing the missteps conducted under forced coercion during the unfortunate past should invite the reciprocal compassion and understanding of our people.

“While serious criminal conduct by individuals has to be dealt with, protecting the overall integrity of the police force ranks supreme,” the statement read.

The two groups said the security forces must be made accountable for alleged miscarriage of justice carried out as a result of “past missteps and bad governance during the previous administration”.

The NGOs said further that it was time for the country to “reboot” so that its people learn to trust each other more, including institutions of governance.

Calls for IPCMC

Patriot and G25 also called for the immediate setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

“For example, any death of police detainees in lock-up cells must be immediately investigated by the IPCMC. Any police shooting of suspects should be investigated to determine if it was justified.

“All police forces in advanced countries have such a system of monitoring and verification to give confidence to the public that their interests against abuse of power are safeguarded.

“Besides calling for our police force to act based on the findings of the Suhakam inquiry, we urge the Pakatan Harapan leaders to seriously start implementing reforms that will have foolproof check and balance measures against any possible misgovernance by future ruling parties or coalitions,” they said.

Amri and Koh were reportedly abducted in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Following a lengthy inquiry, Suhakam concluded that the duo were victims of enforced disappearance by the state, Bukit Aman Special Branch to be exact. 

The commission also pointed to lapses in police investigations into the two cases, a lack of urgency, as well as concerted efforts to obscure links to a former Special Branch contract worker who was a key witness in the case.

The latter had persistently declined to testify before the panel.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was the home minister at the time of the disappearances, denied ordering the abduction of the two men. 

Suhakam further called on the setting up of an independent taskforce to probe the two cases, for police’s standard operating procedure (SOP) on missing persons and abductions to be reformed, and for the IPCMC to be set up as an oversight body for the police. 

The Harapan government announced the formation of the IPCMC last year, and the bill for its setting up is to be tabled in Dewan Rakyat this year. 

Apart from Koh and Amri, pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu also went missing two years ago. Their case remains unsolved.

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