Press Statement

 5 June 2015

Prosecute police personnel responsible for the deaths of Karuna Nithi and C. Sugumar


Lawyers for Liberty is extremely concerned with the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers conspicuous inaction after the landmark Coroner Court’s verdict finding police personnel to be responsible or criminally concerned with the deaths of Karuna Nithi and C. Sugumar (see the attached verdicts).


Several months have passed since the verdicts in January and March 2015 respectively and not a single policeman has been arrested, investigated, charged for these deaths, or even disciplined, despite the damning court findings.


Both C. Sugumar and Karuna Nithi died tragically, needlessly and in the most humiliating manner possible. Their deaths could have been avoided had the authorities taken action for the many previous deaths in custody.


Unfortunately, the authorities’ inaction is symptomatic of a framework of institutionalised impunity where a detainee can die in police custody and there will be no recourse or accountability. Even in cases where the inquests have found the police to be criminally concerned, the state is still reluctant to hold law enforcement personnel accountable for the unlawful killings. Instead, a ‘blue wall of silence’ builds up to frustrate all attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice.


Today, the family members of the deceased Karuna Nithi and C. Sugumar have called upon the authorities to act swiftly and to bring the policemen responsible to justice, that serious actions be taken against them through criminal charges or at the very least that they be sacked from the police force.


We call upon the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General and the Inspector-General of Police to take more seriously issues that involve state violence especially extrajudicial killings. They must be particularly vigilant against the serious abuse of police powers that sidesteps the criminal justice process and takes on the role of judge, jury and executioner.


We reiterate our calls 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.


Eric Paulsen

Executive Director

Lawyers for Liberty


5 June 2015

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