Civil Society Organisations’ Joint Statement
Reject the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC)
22 March 2022
We, the undersigned Malaysian civil society organisations, firmly and unequivocally reject the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) bill which was tabled in August 2020 and is expected to be tabled for a second reading during this session of Parliament.
The IPCC bill, EAIC Act and IPCMC 2005 bill
The proposed IPCC is a severely diluted version of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), which is a failed institution. The design of the EAIC is itself a watered-down version of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) proposed in 2005 by the Royal Commission of Inquiry to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police (Dzaiddin Commission). There are several glaring issues with the bill, namely:
· Independence and impartiality are questionable: The IPCC’s independence and impartiality are questionable as the Minister of Home Affairs is given the authority to appoint the Secretary of the Commission, instead of the Commission collectively deciding the candidate. Also, the bill does not restrict police involvement in the Commission, thus allowing serving police officers and retired police officers to be part of the Commission.
· Limited investigative powers: Compared with EAIC and IPCMC, the Commission has limited investigative powers. Its task forces do not have the powers conferred by the Criminal Procedure Code. It does not have the power to conduct search and seizure in its investigations; it cannot visit lockups or any places of detention without prior notice; on top of that, it has limited power to compel the surrender of documents and evidence if they are deemed ‘prejudicial to national security or national interest’.
· Lack of enforcement powers: The IPCC bill deprives the Commission of enforcement powers as it removes disciplinary power or the power to compel actions based on recommendations made by the Commission. Upon finding any police misconduct, the Commission can only refer its findings to the Police Force Commission with a recommendation for disciplinary action. The Commission has no authority to compel the Police Force Commission to act or to report its actions to the IPCC within a stipulated time frame.
Police brutality and abuse of power violate basic human rights and pose serious threats to civilians. Over the years, enforced disappearances, torture, ill-treatment and deaths in custody have been rampant.
By shelving the IPCC bill and immediately tabling a new Bill that enshrines the initial objectives and purpose of the the IPCMC as proposed by the bill drafted by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, the government can:
· Restore public trust
According to Transparency International, the Royal Malaysian Police rank second highest for perception of corruption, with 30% of Malaysians perceiving the institution as corrupt. When there is an absence of public trust in the police, the police can neither enhance their effectiveness nor defend the legitimacy of their actions. Worse still, where there is no policing by consent, policing is likely to take more arbitrary and violent forms. A dangerous, downward spiral of disengagement ultimately leads to spikes in violence and vigilantism, threatening the safety of citizens and the police alike, thereby further damaging public trust.
Hence, reviving the IPCMC bill is a highly urgent and important task, not only to restore the police’s long-tarnished reputation, but also to rebuild police-community trust and to break the cycle of violence.
· Ensure transitional justice
Moreover, the IPCMC aims to pursue transitional justice for the deceased by punishing the guilty and protecting our inalienable right to life that is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Twelve deaths in police custody have been reported within the first eleven weeks of 2022. Yet, the reasons for the deaths remain unknown, and progress of the investigations has yet to be revealed, leaving the families to bear the cost of injustice and suffer from perpetual grief.
We acknowledge that the police have established a Death in Custody Investigation Unit (USJKT). However, the only change we have seen is that this unit promptly issues public statements when deaths occur in police custody. The investigations continue to be carried out by the police themselves without transparency, without independent oversight, without urgency.
Even though the statements released by the USJKT have caused immense public outrage and resulted in public complaints over the police’s failure to release information previously released in Parliament, no improvements have been made to the statements. Also, there have been no corresponding reports of related prosecutions or disciplinary actions. Three months since USJKT’s establishment, we have no reason to believe the USJKT has made any impact on the culture of impunity within the police force.
· Fulfil state obligations
As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the government must demonstrate its serious commitment to preventing the tragedy and brutality of police misconduct from continuing to haunt the nation indefinitely, as well as become an exemplar of good police practices.
The establishment of an independent oversight body IPCMC contributes towards the realisation of several targets under the Sustainable Development Goal 16, including target 16.1 significantly reducing all forms of violence and related death rates and target 16.3 promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensuring equal access to justice for all.
We urge the Minister of Home Affairs to immediately shelve the IPCC bill and return to the drawing board to craft an IPCMC bill which shall uphold the original spirit of an oversight body proposed by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police (Dzaiddin Commission) in 2005.
A new Bill must promote police accountability and guarantee a Commission which is:
· Impartial, independent and transparent;
· Mandated to receive, initiate and to conduct investigations of serious abuses committed by police and not be limited to minor disciplinary misconducts; and
· Mandated with real powers to investigate, initiate action and enforce its decision.
We also urge all Members of Parliament, who are endowed with reason and conscience, to reject the IPCC bill.
1. Agora Society Malaysia
3. All Women’s Action Society
4. Amnesty International Malaysia
5. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
6. Angkatan Mahasiswa UM
7. Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK)
8. Architects of Diversity Malaysia
9. Borneo Komrad
10. Centre for independent journalism (CIJ)
11. Citizen Lab
12. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED)
13. Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth (DAPSY)
14. Demokrat Kebangsaan
15. Demokrat UM
16. Eliminating Death and Abuse in Custody Together (EDICT)
17. GERAK Malaysia
18. Gerakan Guaman Rakyat (GEGAR)
19. Hak Siswa
21. Institut Nyala
22. Justice for Sisters
23. Kelab Sastera Mahasiswa UMS (KARMA)
24. Kesatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya
25. KLSCAH Youth
26. Legal Dignity
27. Liga Demokratik Rakyat
28. Lyceum Society 稷下学社
29. L-INC Foundation
30. Malaysia Muda
31. Malaysia Youths and Students Evolution Johor Branch (MYSE Johor)
32. Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (MAJU)
33. Women’s Aid Organisation
34. New Student Movement Alliance of Malaysia (NESA)
35. Parti Ikatan Demokratik Malaysia (MUDA)
36. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
37. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
38. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL
39. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (PROHAM)
40. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
41. Pertubuhan Serikat Rakyat Malaysia
42. Pertubuhan Solidaritas
43. Pusat KOMAS
44. Save Musang King Alliance (SAMKA)
46. Student Progressive Front UUM
47. Suara Mahasiswa UMS
48. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
50. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
51. The KLSCAH Women Division
52. Undi 18
53. University of Malaya Association of New Youth
54. UTM-MJIIT Voices
55. Voice of Youtharian (VOY)