LFL Press Statement
25 November 2014
Classify Syed Mohd Azlan’s death as murder, instead of ‘sudden death’
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern Bernama report today – “Detainee’s death classified as sudden death” where Johor CID chief Hasnan Hassan said detainee Syed Mohd Azlan, 25 had “suddenly experienced breathing difficulties” and died despite the post-mortem report stating the cause of death was due to blunt force trauma to the chest.
For the Johor police to classify the case as “sudden death” is shocking and unacceptable and it seems clear the police are not taking the case seriously, just like the many custodial deaths around the country. The Johor police instead of downplaying Syed Mohd Azlan’s death should immediately commence murder investigation and suspend all the police personnel involved.
Needless to say, there must be independent and competent investigations, rather than simply asking the wrongdoers to do their own investigations where there will be serious risks of collusion and cover-up.
There should be zero tolerance towards custodial deaths. It is the most heinous crime the police can perpetrate and it must not be allowed to become common occurrence in Malaysia. All remand detainees are innocent until convicted in a court of law and like other citizens they are entitled to their basic human rights during their detention. The police cannot resort to questionable forms of interrogation; they do not have the power to assault and torture suspects in their custody, least of all power to kill.
Malaysia must not be allowed to develop into a police state where a detainee can die or be killed while in police custody without any accountability or redress. In order to restore public faith in the administration of justice, the culture of impunity and cover-up must be replaced by independent and competent police investigation, an AG’s Chambers and judiciary that are genuinely committed to inquire into all extra judicial killings.
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.
Lawyers for Liberty
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