KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 15): Though it has been almost a decade since the proposal for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) was first mooted, civil society continues to push for its implementation, especially in light of several high-profile cases of deaths in police custody recently.

The Stop State Violence Movement today said that just within the first month of this year, there had been several cases of alleged police violence, highlighting the need for an independent mechanism to deal with police and state violence.

“Within the first month of this year itself there are so many cases. Namely, Chang Chin Te, Pua Bee Chun and C Sugumar. And these are the cases we know of,” said Suaram coordinator Thevarajan R who is part of the movement.

Chang, 30 was declared dead after being under police custody for four days since Jan 10. Police said that he was found dead in the lock-up but his family claims that the death was due to police foul play.

Meanwhile, Pua, 22, was killed in a police shoot out on Jan 18. Questions were raised as to why 24 rounds of bullets were fired at her direction by the police.

Sugumar’s on going case has grabbed headlines after the security guard, who reportedly ran amok and damaged property in Hulu Selangor, was chased down by police on Jan 23, handcuffed, and allegedly beaten.

Police have denied this, and an autopsy done in the Serdang Hospital revealed he had died of a heart attack.

The movement released a statement today demanding that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “stop being deaf to the voice of the people, affected communities and civil society” and implement the IPCMC immediately. The statement is supported by 42 NGOs.

Irene Fernandez, executive director of Tenaganita, one of the NGOs who signed the statement, said that establishing the IPCMC was not a new proposal and that the persistent call for it shows that the every life is valued.

“The resumed call is important to recognise that we value life. It is very crucial that we stop deaths created by the police force and the enforcement agency.

“Also, who will care for all those who have died in custody? Will the state care for the families,” she asked.

She added that the movement’s intentions was to create awareness amongst the people on the issue and how the many other government arms such as the judiciary and hospitals can play a role in ensuring that the truth prevails in cases of deaths in custody.

The movement did not rule out a protest in the future to further highlight their cause.

Fernandez also added that the movement for an IPCMC also highlighted the concern for political intervention in cases of deaths in custody.

Fernandez referred to allegations raised yesterday by Sugumar’s lawyers that the government had allegedly asked the Thailand government to prevent renowned pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand from conducting a second post-mortem on Sugumar.

“These allegations are serious and Najib has to come out and deny them if he is not involved,” she added.

Yesterday, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office, when contacted by fz.com, denied the allegations, and demanded proof.

Both Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and de facto law minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz have rejected calls for the IPCMC before, saying there was no need for such a commission.

They said the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), established in 2011, was sufficient avenue for the public to make their complaints.

However, civil society members argue that EAIC is a toothless body that cannot act with conviction.

In its written answer in parliament, the Home Ministry stated that there have been a total of 156 deaths in police custody from 2000 to February 2011.Eighty-five cases have been classified under “No Further Action”. Twenty-nine cases are still under investigation.

Despite much public outcry over these cases, only two were brought to legal proceedings; four inquests were completed, with one prosecution.

by Tarani Palani, FZ.com