KUALA LUMPUR: In exercising their powers, police should be “the face of human rights, and not a face to intimidate”, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said.

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail (pic) said selected and intermittent training programmes on human rights are “just a scratch on the surface” to ensure that uniformed enforcement personnel are imbued with an understanding of human rights values.

“Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face to intimidate, even as the police need to be the bulwark of the country’s security,” he said when addressing the International Malaysian Law Conference here Wednesday.

He said Suhakam provides training programme for law enforcement agencies such as the police, the Prisons Department, the Immigration Department, Rela, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and local authorities.

However, he acknowledged that it is a mammoth task with Suhakam having to dig deeper into its “raison d’etre” and its resources to ensure that the training programmes have a positive impact.

“We appreciate the space allocated to us by the respective authorities but, in all honesty, Suhakam’s effort is just a scratch on the surface and without continuous and consistent learning and further reminder, all will be forgotten,” he added.

Razali, who was Malaysian ambassador to the United Nations, said understanding of human rights is also crucial as the nation deals with the threat of terrorism.

“It is vital that the police and other uniformed bodies from the lowest to the highest personnel understand the value of human rights because of the country’s needs in enhancing security and dealing with terrorism,” he said.

He noted that ministers and public officers, at all levels, must exercise powers conferred on them in good faith, fairly and for the purpose for which the powers were conferred.

“Such powers should not be exercised unreasonably or in excess of their limits,” he said, adding that action taken should be in line with the simple principle of proportionality and be aimed at protecting the public without undermining the institutions they rely on.


By The Star Online