I have to give a warning before I start this post – It is quite a depressing subject. Don’t say I didn’t warn.
Last week was the National Consultation on Promoting Greater Police Accountability in Malaysia. It was organised by the Bar Council Task Force on Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), which I am a member of.
I was tasked to present the data and statistics on death in custody, police shootings and cases of police torture. Depressing numbers. For a start, from the year 2001 until 2015 there are over 200 deaths in custody. And although the law makes it mandatory to conduct inquest into these deaths, from 2000 to 2004, there were only 6 inquests out of 80 deaths in custody. It’s sad really. Imagine, if a family member or someone you knew makes up the number, and you are not afforded a closure to the entire traumatic experience.
I gotta admit that I did not have a chance to look at the powerpoint slides I would be presenting. So that morning I was pretty nervous and even asked Malathi (our fantastically able BC Officer who did an excellent job with the slides) for a private room where I could practice. Didn’t have the chance to do that either. I did a quick run through of the slides on my laptop and decided not to rush the presentation. I think it went pretty okay. Leena said I did okay too, and that I set out all relevant facts alright. So, phew…
The Roundtable discussion was, I’d say, quite well attended. We had representatives from EAIC and the courts in attendance as well. Malathi did a wonderful job with the administrative tasks of sending out invites, securing venue, date, etc.
My hope is that this issue and calls for police to take accountability for their misconduct, some of which caused death and untold misery to civilians, will be given more serious thoughts by our authorities and policy makers.
Now for the coming term, we’ll need to think how to advocate the issue to the masses, the people on the ground. It’s not just thinking up ideas really. We need people to be able to carry out the ideas. I hope we could recruit more people passionate about the issue for this coming term.