PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will next month begin its public inquiry into the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu.
The panel of inquiry will be chaired by Commissioner Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Yunus and assisted by Commissioners Jerald Joseph and Dr Madeline Berma.
The hearings will commence from Feb 18 at Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Suhakam has called for individuals with relevant and important information to come forward to have their statements recorded from now to Feb 14.
“Through this inquiry, Suhakam intends to fully investigate to its best ability what has transpired in order to identify and make the best possible recommendations to the appropriate parties.
“Notwithstanding Suhakam’s investigation, the commission calls on the authorities to fully and expeditiously investigate all cases where there is a reasonable suspicion that an enforced disappearance may have occurred.
“Suhakam underlines that ready availability of information on issues of public concern is of vital importance in a democratic society with an avowed commitment to transparency, ” they said in a statement on Sunday (Jan 26).
Suhakam initiated investigations in connection with the disappearances under Section 12(1) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act.
Ruth, who is Indonesian, was reported missing along with her Malaysian husband, Hilmy, a pastor, back in 2016.
The family said Ruth had not responded to any of their messages or calls since November 2016.
It was reported that Ruth's family had lodged a police report in Malaysia, adding that they also lodged a report with the Indonesian Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
The couple were said to have married according to Batak customs in 2006 before moving to Malaysia a year later.
In April of last year, a Suhakam inquiry concluded that Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat were victims of "enforced disappearance by state agents".
In announcing the findings of the public inquiry on April 3, Suhakam had said that there was "direct and circumstantial evidence which proves, on balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by state agents, by Special Branch, Bukit Aman."