The EAIC’s report into Dharmendran’s death is an urgent reminder for the government to implement the IPCMC
29 April 2016
On 28 April 2016, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) released its investigative report into the death of N. Dharmendran on what must be one of the most shocking custodial death in recent memory. On 21 May 2013, the nation was shocked by news of Dharmendran’s death after he was detained for 10 days at Ibu Pejabat Polis Kontinjen Kuala Lumpur with his body showing clear signs of torture, having among others things, staples still attached on his ears.
The post-mortem report showed Dharmendran was a healthy man with no significant natural diseases that could have contributed to his death. He was brutally beaten to death by members of the police’s Serious Crimes Division (D9) where he sustained no less than 52 bruises. The post-mortem report further stated that “the overall pattern of these injuries is neither self-inflicted nor accidental in nature.” The cause of death was an unequivocal “diffuse soft tissue injuries due to multiple blunt force trauma.”
While four police officers were charged with Dharmendran’s murder, we are shocked and appalled by the findings of the EAIC report that numerous other police personnel including senior police officers were involved in a conspiracy of covering up his death by among other things, falsifying lock-up diary entries and making a false police report on the cause of death.
Such serious misconducts are clear violations of the Inspector-General of Police Standing Orders (IGSO) and the Lock-Up Rules that govern the movement, treatment and care of detainees at police lock-ups. Further, these are criminal offences under the Penal Code for giving, tampering or fabricating false evidence or causing disappearance of evidence of an offence.
We fully support the EAIC’s recommendation for disciplinary action to be taken against all police personnel responsible including senior police officers and for the Attorney-General’s Chamber to consider criminal prosecution.
The EAIC findings are symptoms of the larger problem of law enforcement impunity and the state’s reluctance to hold law enforcement personnel accountable for serious human rights abuses. The fact that a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SAC) and an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) have been identified as key persons responsible for covering up Dharmendran’s death also reveals the gross extent to which the culture of abuse and impunity has festered in the police force.
In order to restore public faith in the police force, the culture of impunity and cover-up must be replaced by independent and competent police investigation and an AG’s Chambers that are genuinely committed to inquire into all extra judicial killings.
The findings of the Coroner Court in the custodial deaths of Karuna Nithi, C. Sugumar, P. Chandran and EAIC in Syed Mohd Azlan must not go in vain. Disciplinary action and criminal prosecution must commence against all police personnel responsible including those who sought to cover up their deaths.
The EAIC’s report into Dharmendran’s death is an urgent and timely reminder for the government to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (May 2005), for the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to function as an independent and external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel.
Lawyers for Liberty
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