IPCMC needs to have investigative powers, Putrajaya told

Radzi Razak

Lawyer M. Visvanathan speaks during the press conference in Petaling Jaya December 23,2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PETALING JAYA, Dec 23 — A non-governmental organisation (NGO) wants the government to revert back the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to its 2005 draft to give it investigative powers in the wake of the High Court decision on custodial deaths last week.

The IPCMC is a police oversight body first proposed by a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to improve the police force in 2005, following a spate of deaths in custody.

The Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody (EDICT) NGO led by M. Visvanathan said Pakatan Harapan should realise that the civil court decision on Syed Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur, who died in police custody in November 2014 clearly showed that while the court would still accept findings by the current the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC)), the IPCMC Bill did not provide any reports to be accepted by the court.

Visvanathan said that the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) that replaced the EAIC in the IPCMC will be required to set up a task commission first before investigating the death in police custody cases like Syed Azlan’s.

“Central to the Syed Azlan decision on Thursday was the investigation report made public by the EAIC. Although the AGC objected to the EAIC report as evidence, the judge accepted it and clearly explained her grounds for doing so. However under the IPCC there was no provision to publish such reports.

“The EAIC is a little opening in the blue wall of police deceit and this little opening through which the public can see into the force will be closed by the IPCMC Bill,” he said in a press conference today.

“We appealed to Pakatan Harapan to use the 2005 draft as the current 2019 ones has less impact in the civil society. We spend millions before for the Royal Commission. The government always say we don’t have enough money, so why wouldn’t we use the 2005 draft?

“Enough of the shadowplay,” he said.

Meanwhile, de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong commented on Syed Azlan’s case that the government will ensure that “any person in the custody of any law enforcement agency must be assured of their safety.”

In a statement yesterday, Liew stressed that the government would continue to pursue the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) that would have the authority to look into such cases independently and ensure accountability.

The IPCMC will not only hold the police accountable but as part of its statutory mandate will also act on issues pertaining to the welfare and interests of the police force,” he said.

Liew said the government would re-engage all stakeholders including the police and the society in its efforts to refine the IPCMC Bill.

On December 19, Syed Azlan’s family was granted RM448,000 in compensation and damages after his family initiated civil proceedings in 2015 against three policemen and 11 others, including the inspector-general of police and the government.

The money covered their court costs, dependency claims, malfeasance in public office, exemplary, bereavement, funeral and special damages.

Three policemen — Weddrin Mojingkin, Joshua Perait and Muhammad Bunyamin — were charged under Section 304(b) of the Penal Code with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which is punishable with jail up to 30 years and a fine.

However, they were found not guilty at the Sessions Court and the High Court this year upheld their acquittal.

Syed Azlan, a 25-year-old welder, was arrested in the early hours of November 3, 2014 on suspicion of rioting and possession of a weapon two weeks earlier.

He was taken to the police station lock-up in Sungai Rengit, Johor and found unconscious five hours later during a transfer to the Kota Tinggi district police headquarters. He was sent to the Bandar Penawar health clinic where he was pronounced dead.

In 2018, the EAIC said police personnel had beaten Syed Mohd Azlan while in custody, adding that it found 61 wounds on his body that were consistent with defensive injuries.

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