Sunday, May 06, 2012

SUHAKAM Can Investigate Violence, Why New Panel?

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has announced the cabinet decision to set up a special “independent” panel to investigate the various reported abuses and violent conduct by the Police force during the Bersih assembly last week.

Bernama also reported that he is looking for the “right people” to become members of this investigation panel.

The decision to set up a brand new panel to investigate the various claims of abuses is curious, to say the least.  The Government has already set up SUHAKAM under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which includes among its roles and responsibilities, inquiries into complaints regarding infringements of human rights.

The Commission under section 4(2) also has the power to “advise the Government and/or relevant authorities of complaints against them and to recommend appropriate measures to be taken”.

The Commission is headed today by Tan Sri Hasmy Agam. Other commissioners include Professor Dr Khaw Lake Tee, En. Mohd Sha’ani Abdullah, Professor Datuk Dr Mahmud Zuhdi Majid and Mr James Nagayam. These Commissioners have been appointed by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the Prime Minister to uphold human rights in the country.

Therefore why is it that SUHAKAM has been marginalised when it comes to the investigation of outright human rights abuses by the police force?  Why is there a need for the Prime Minister to set up a new “independent” committee which will require a fresh set up and selection of new panel members?  Is it because the Cabinet is worried that SUHAKAM findings will be detrimental to both the police force and the Government, and hence Dato’ Seri Najib is attempting to set up a new panel which will be more “sympathetic” towards the Government’s cause?

We call upon the Prime Minister to stop dragging his feet over the outrageous abuses and violence by police officers against journalists and ordinary Malaysians during the Bersih assembly.

Scores of Malaysians have been beaten up by these officers for no apparent reason, causing many serious injuries.  The Sun reporter Radzi Razak for example, fractured his cheekbone and has had his jaw “wired shut” as a result of police brutality.

The Cabinet should immediately appoint SUHAKAM as the independent investigation panel so that Malaysians can get to the bottom of this controversy as soon as possible.

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