PETALING JAYA (July 22, 2013): Enforcement of standard operating procedures (SOP) for officers manning police lock-ups is the key to curb detainee deaths.
Human rights groups said today that the current SOP is more than adequate and that the lack of enforcement is the actual issue.
They were commenting on a statement made by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar last week that police are waiting for recommendations on the current SOP from the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).
Khalid had expressed his confidence in the EAIC, saying that it was sufficient in addressing complaints against the police and there was no need for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be formed.
Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen told theSun that having a new SOP for police lock-ups would be a detraction, as the present set of procedures is adequate.
“The problem is enforcement, it is lax and there are no repercussions for officers if the SOP is not followed. For instance, false information entered into the lock-up diary by police officers regarding a detainee’s health must be dealt with. There must be discipline if the SOP is not followed,” he said.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia coordinator R. Thevarajan said the Lock-Up Rules 1953 contained rules every officer in charge of lock-ups should follow.
“They should ensure enforcement of the SOP and if an incident happens, they should be transparent, act quickly, keep the public informed and guarantee justice is served,” he told theSun today.
He said the police need to act on regaining the trust of the people and going to the EAIC, a commission labelled a “toothless tiger” due to its lack of prosecution powers, for feedback on the SOP does not help build trust in the system.
“This goes back to the root issue where EAIC does not have any prosecution powers. It can investigate but it cannot prosecute, compared to the IPCMC, which has its own legal team and prosecution power,” he added.
Bar Human Rights committee co-chairman Andrew Khoo, however, said he did not share the same confidence as there are “certain fundamental deficiencies in the EAIC and inadequate oversight which leaves discipline in the hands of the police”.
The EAIC, formed in 2011, which oversees around 20 departments and agencies, has been labelled ineffective and lacked transparency and action, especially following the sudden spate of deaths in police lock-ups this year.
Michelle Chun and Nandini Puri The Sun Daily