Safeguard the rights of persons in police custody

ON Dec 21, the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court ruled that police were responsible for the death of 38-year-old Thanabalan Subramaniam, who died in police custody in 2018.

In the wake of this finding, the Malaysian Bar calls for the setting up of an independent external organisation to investigate all deaths in custody. It is our view that an external civilian oversight system will complement and enhance existing mechanisms and create accountability for detention authorities.

The Malaysian Bar applauds the coroner’s decision but also calls on the government to consider establishing custodial medical units at detention centres throughout the country. When a person is taken into legally sanctioned custody, the law imposes a duty on the custodial officer to ensure the health and safety of the person in custody.

Detention authorities must ensure that medical treatment is available for all suspects, especially those with health risks and pre-existing conditions.

The Malaysian Bar also calls on detention authorities to ensure the proper sanitation of lockups, and that basic amenities are made accessible in all places of detention.

The Malaysian Bar hopes that, based on the decision of the Shah Alam Coroners Court on Thanabalan’s unfortunate and preventable death, a thorough and extensive investigation will be conducted to bring those responsible for his death to justice.


President, Malaysian Bar

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