Press Statement 
Three years on, the new government must investigate the Wang Kelian mass graves 
26 May 2018

Lawyers for Liberty refers to the original expose on 25 May 2015 of the discovery of over 130 bodies in mass graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis believed to contain the remains of victims of human trafficking.  

Three years on, our continued inaction to investigate this shocking loss of life is only compounded further by the revelation by the New Straits Times in December 2017 that there may have been a massive cover-up by the authorities at the time including suppressing information about the initial discovery and destroying material evidence critical towards the investigation. That former Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar spoke to the journalists ‘off the record’ only further fuels the belief that there was a cover-up at the highest levels.  

In March 2017, according to then-Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in response to a parliamentary question on the mass graves, only 4 foreigners were charged for human trafficking offences while 12 PDRM officers who were previously detained were not charged due to lack of evidence.

Such poor investigative and prosecution record on the most shameful human trafficking scandal in Malaysia’s history must be compared to Thailand where at least 62 persons including local Thai officials and a three-star general, were charged and convicted of human trafficking and other offences.

With the new Pakatan Harapan government in power, there is a chance to finally cut through the lies and web of deception that have been spun to keep this massive crime under wraps. It is time to investigate the rot of local authorities’ collusion with the human traffickers on such a large scale that has resulted in all these deaths and surely more that we have yet to uncover.  

If there is to be any real commitment for the recognition and respect for human rights by the new government, it is imperative that investigating the Wang Kelian mass graves is also included in their human rights agenda and reform.    

We once again reiterate our call for the government to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Wang Kelian mass graves and the subsequent cover-up by the authorities. Those found responsible, irrespective of their current or former posts, must be held accountable and prosecuted for their crimes.

Three years on, although it is likely that much evidence has been destroyed or lost to the passage of time, justice demands that this crucial task be carried out and the world be made aware of the true gravity behind these mass graves.


Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty