KUALA LUMPUR: Civil societies want the Government to show its commitment in addressing an alarmingly high number of deaths in police custody, which they attribute to torture.
There were 259 such deaths since 2000 and the societies – Amnesty International Malaysia, Suhakam, Bar Council, Suaram and Lawyers for Liberty – have joined forces to campaign for the Government to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT).
Amnesty International executive director Shamini Darshni said incidences of torture and questionable deaths continue to permeate law enforcement agencies and signing the convention would mark Malaysia’s commitment to put an end to it.
A total of 158 UN member states have accepted the convention.
“It is almost mind-boggling that any government would not want to assure its citizens and the global community that it will not ill-treat, degrade, cause harm or inflict torture on its people,” Shamini added.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said the international community has adopted the convention for more than 30 years.
“By acceding to CAT, it will ensure the Government’s law enforcement agencies are duty-bound to comply with the provisions embodied in the CAT and to protect people against torture or any forms of ill-treatment,” he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low said no democratic country with a civilised and God-fearing society would support any form of torture on its citizens.
“Signing the convention does not solve all the problems; the government agencies must improve and monitor the compliance of its standard operating procedure.
“I do believe Malaysia should proceed and positively adopt the convention. But we need to consult with other stakeholders in the Government such as the Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry, Attorney-General’s Chambers and others,” he said.
Low said he would personally advocate ratifying the convention and the matter should be brought before the consideration of the Cabinet.
“It is high time to adopt the convention especially when we are also a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council,” he added.
A petition by the campaign partners to push for Putrajaya to ratify the CAT started yesterday, and it will be on until December.
The petition is available at amnesty.my.