Bukit Aman, 8 January 2011
The quest for justice for the recent police shooting victims at Glenmarie continues due to shocking failure by Police to investigate or take any action on the unlawful killings by Police at Glenmarie on 13.11.2010 including a 15 year old.
Lawyers for Liberty is gravely concerned over the shooting to death of three alleged suspects by police during the early hours of Saturday 13th November 2010 at Glenmarie, Selangor. The dead were Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 15, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22. Although the three victims did not have criminal records, acting Selangor Police Chief Datuk A.Thaiveegan has made the incredible claim that all the dead were “seasoned criminals”.
The police allege that the dead suspects were part of a gang known as “Geng Minyak” which preyed on petrol stations. They further allege that the suspects when cornered rushed at the police with machetes and that the police shot them all dead in self-defense. We find this story by the police to be quite unbelievable.
If the suspects were only armed with machetes and not firearms, why was it necessary to shoot all of them dead? Were any warning shots fired? It beggars belief that men armed with machetes would rush into a hail of bullets.
We note that there is disturbing similarity in the justification given out by police after almost every fatal police shooting in recent memory. In almost all cases, police claim that the suspects fled and police gave chase. The suspects then attacked police and the police opened fire killing all instantly. No suspect in such situations ever seems to survive. Subsequent to the shooting police claim to have discovered weapons in their vehicle and accuse the dead of being involved in all sorts of crime. Of course, by then none of them can defend themselves.
Even after the shocking statistics of fatal police shootings that have risen 17 fold since 2001 was revealed in November 2010, the Police continue to act in blatant lawlessness as reflected in their failure to commence an independent and effective investigation in response to the police reports lodged by the victims’ families on November 2010. The police failure to independently and effectively investigate the shooting demonstrates clearly the culture of impunity and lawlessness that is deeply woven into the practice of the Malaysian police force. This deafening silence poses irreversible threat to the lives and safety of the general public who is vulnerable to being victims of police shooting as a result of uninvestigated misuse of power which goes unpunished.
Whilst we understand that the police have an important and onerous job to prevent and combat crime, the police must understand that the wide powers to use firearms to apprehend suspects cannot be abused and used arbitrarily. As a professional police force, they should be guided by the law and legal processes in the country and not act with impunity. The police force must act in compliance with legal procedures and guidelines on discharge of firearms which can be reflected on the international policing norms that require that firearms only be discharged to protect life and that clear warnings be given with adequate time to comply.
Given the prevailing situation on fatal police shootings, this is unfortunately symptomatic of the police’s inability to act professionally as a police force that can work within a modern criminal justice system and not resort to arbitrary use of firearms that do not require any real police work and diligence. The police should instead strive to be a modern and professional force that conform to international standards and best practices and not regress to wrongful practices that have caused the public to lose so much confidence with the police force.
The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the culture of impunity, general arrogance and lack of respect for international policing norms, the rule of law and other legal procedures. This is not an isolated incident but a continuation of a long standing series of acts by the police that showed their contempt for the rights of the people that have resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality.
The police cannot be permitted to continue to operate in an environment of impunity but as this tragic episode has explicitly illustrated, the police have just sent a strong message that they can act as they please with no regard to the rule of law, police professionalism, the law and procedure governing their conduct.
The Inspector General of Police must:
a) Effectively investigate the fatal police shootings of Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 15, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22.
b) Take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who fired the shots.
c) Stop the abusive and arbitrary practice of discharge of firearms.
d) Make public the Inspector General Standing Order on the police guidelines on discharge of firearms.
e) Support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct
Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
f) Support human rights education and training programmes, with a view to changing the
attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.
Submitted by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) on behalf of the family of Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 15, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22.