Kuala Lumpur, Apr 7 – Scores of civil society groups and non-governmental organizations gathered at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to express deep regret on the untimely death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed.
Ahmad Sarbani, 56, who was recently promoted to the position of assistant director in the Selangor Customs Department, was found sprawled on the first floor of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) building located at Jalan Cochrane.
Ahmad Sarbani leaves behind his wife Maziah Manap, 50, and five children.
All 73 civil society groups and NGOs issued a joint-press statement demanding for the immediate establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the death of Ahmad Sarbani.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) director Dr Kua Kia Soong (pic right), also urged the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government to expedite the setup of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
“The IPCMC was first proposed in 2003 during the time of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but has been shelved for 8 years. If Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is sincere about his Government Transformation Plan (GTP), then he must setup the IPCMC,” he said.
“If Najib and his administration has the political will to prevent future death-in-custody cases, they should be focusing on this critical issue in Parliament now (as the sitting had resumed),” he added.
Dr Kua then stressed on the importance of the transparency of the IPCMC when it is setup, and that all enforcement agencies – police, armed forces, anti-corruption, immigration and the income tax department be under the purview of the IPCMC.
He called upon the BN government to emulate foreign country policies in handling all types of death-related incidents involving enforcement agencies.
“The IPCMC must be fully independent and given the authority to investigate and arrest those who had abused their powers that caused grievious hurt or even death to criminals and citizens alike,” Dr Kua said.
Lawyers for Liberty representative, Eric Paulsen (pic left) revealed that there were 147 deaths-in-custody linked to the police while thousands had died under immigration detention since the year 2000.
“Out of the 147 deaths in police custody, inquest was conducted in less than 14 cases while not even one of the inquests resulted in a guilty verdict for the accused (police officer),” he said.
“The only case that I could recall where two policemen was actually charged and convicted for a custodial death was over the death of Lee Guat Leong in the police lock-up in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur in May 1995 after he was arrested on suspicion of bank burglary in Cheras,” he added.
According to statistics released by the PDRM, 64 Malays, 30 Chinese, 28 Indians, 8 other races, and 14 foreigners died in police custody between year 2000 and Feb 2010.
Paulsen also pointed out that inquests rely on the impartiality of both the magistrate and also the Attorney-General in order for justice to be granted to the family of the deceased.
“The problem lies with the current judiciary system whereby magistrates are often too inexperienced, and rely on the more senior DPP to interpret the evidence presented. Those who are career-minded inadvertantly end-up ruling in favour of their seniors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tan Jo Hann (pic right) from KOMAS urged the public to demand for their right to safety and protection from enforcement agencies who abuse their powers.
“Death-in-custody can happen to anyone. It can happen to you and to me. We can be arrested, harassed, tortured, beaten and ultimately, die while under custody. This is not the first time it has happened,” he said.
“When Teoh Beng Hock died, certain quarters tried to make it a racial thing by ‘confining’ it to an isolated incident involving a Chinese. However, in reality, we must understand that it can happen to anyone, including our friends or our family members,” added Tan.
Representatives of the civil society groups and NGOs present unanimously urged the government to take immediate steps to grant justice to the family of the late Ahmad Sarbani and to prevent future occurences.
“We support the anti-corruption agency’s effort in fighting graft, but the right to life is above all. Fighting graft must not be conducted at the expense of a human life,” the statement read.
Thursday, 07 April 2011 21:17 Philip Ho, Klik4Malaysia.com