Press Statement

Police should stop shooting the messenger, investigate Suaram’s claim seriously

12 October 2019


Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the act of Kangar police chief lodging a police report against Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy, calling for him to be investigated under section 500 of the Penal Code and section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). Yesterday, Suaram had held a press conference with a father and son and their lawyer, highlighting serious allegations of wrongful arrest, detention and torture.


The allegations against the police warrant a swift and thorough investigation by the police, but instead of doing so, the police have chosen to intimidate the messenger by lodging a police report against Sevan who was providing support for the victims. This is clearly an intimidation tactic against a human rights defender and an attempt to effectively shut down investigation against the complaint and cover-up the matter.


As with any human rights defenders, Suaram plays an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights for all. The allegations highlighted in the press conference are matters to be taken seriously and it is certainly wrong for the police to retaliate in such a manner which can only tarnish the image of the police further. The authorities must protect all human rights defenders and organisations which is crucial in ensuring that they can work in a safe, supportive environment that is free from intimidation by the authorities.


Malaysia is no longer governed by the oppressive Barisan Nasional (BN) regime which had previously persecuted the people for merely exercising their rights under the Federal Constitution. Whoever that is affected by Sevan’s press conference should respond in a civilised manner and not resort to lodging police reports. There is certainly nothing criminal in what he had said.


The police must act consistent with the reform agenda of the new Pakatan Harapan government and not fall back into the BN way of governance. Further, the government has already announced that oppressive laws and provisions found in the Sedition Act, CMA, Penal Code and other laws will be reviewed and abolished.


In Malaysia Baharu, the police should strive to be a respectable institution that upholds the Constitution and human rights. Such abuse of power as exemplified by the Kangar police chief’s reaction makes it all the more important for an independent and effective Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be formed without delay.


Issued by,

Melissa Sasidaran


Lawyers for Liberty