24 October 2013
Lawyers for Liberty is concerned with the suggestion to amend Section 7 of the Prison Act 1995. This amendment is to appoint police station and court house lock-ups to contain persons remanded under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959.
Section 7 of the Prison Act only allows detention in police station and court house lock-ups for a period that does not exceed one month. Police station and court house lock-ups are designed to be temporary in nature and its facilities have been crafted to contain individuals who are awaiting trial or for police investigation under the CPC and other laws. The containment of an individual within these lock-ups cannot exceed one month.
The amendment to Section 7 of the Prison Act would allow the Home Minister to designate lock-ups at police stations and court houses for the confinement of persons remanded under the Prevention of Crime Act that allows detention up to 60 days, therefore breaching the requirement for a lock-up to only be used up to one month.
Needless to say, police station and court house lock-ups are not suitable and properly equipped to detain individuals for long periods of time.
In the event a suspect is to be remanded for more than a month, it would be more suited for them to be transferred to a more permanent location, equipped to deal with the living conditions of the suspect, and to ease police management as well. It would be cumbersome for the police to manage a suspect twice as long as usually required in the police lock-up.
Moreover, despite the temporary nature of the police lock-ups, we have seen it being transformed into a killing field for suspects. Many individuals have been tortured to death or died under unlawful circumstances in police lock-ups. The names N. Dhamendran, A. Kugan and Karuna Nithi are not alien to us and their short, brutal, fatal time spent in the police lock-up cannot be forgotten.
We are extremely concerned that once the authorities doubles the amount of time lawfully allocated in lock-ups, the number of police lock-up deaths and brutality will also increase as it is abundantly clear from the police’s atrocious track record, that the safety and welfare of detainees are rarely a concern.
Lawyers for Liberty
For more information, please contact:
Off: 03-7960 5688
E-mail: [email protected]