Systematic torture in widespread caning: Amnesty

1
245 views

The Malaysian government must immediately end the practice of judicial caning, which subjects thousands of people each year to systematic torture and ill-treatment, leaving them with permanent physical and psychological scars, Amnesty International said in a new report.

A mannequin tied to an A-frame - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A Blow to Humanity provides an in-depth look at Malaysian caning, which leaves victims, including many foreigners seeking asylum, with little recourse, support or hope. Many have no understanding of the charges or fate that awaits them.

“Caning in Malaysia has hit epidemic proportions,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “In every case that we examined, the punishment amounted to torture, which is absolutely prohibited under any circumstances.”

In recent years, Malaysia has increased the number of penal offenses subject to caning to more than 60. Since 2002, when Parliament made immigration violations such as illegal entry subject to caning, tens of thousands of refugees and migrant workers have been caned.

In Malaysian prisons specially trained caning officers tear into victims’ bodies with a metre-long cane swung with both hands at high speed. The cane rips into the victim’s naked skin, pulps the fatty tissue below, and leaves scars that extend to muscle fibre. The pain is so severe that victims often lose consciousness.

The Malaysian government does not punish officers for their actions. Instead, it trains officers how to conduct caning and pays them a bonus for each stroke. Many double their income through their caning work….

State-employed doctors also play an integral role in caning. They examine victims and certify their fitness to be caned. When victims lose consciousness during caning, they revive them so the punishment can continue. After caning, some victims suffer long-term physical disabilities.

READ MORE:  The making of Malaysian identities

“The role that Malaysian doctors play in facilitating deliberate pain and injury through caning is absolutely contrary to international medical ethics,” said Sam Zarifi. “Instead of treating the victims, doctors are assisting in their torture and ill-treatment.”

Malaysian officials and state employees who are complicit in torture are liable to prosecution worldwide under universal jurisdiction for grave human rights crimes such as these, Amnesty International said.

Judicial caning was originally imposed under British colonial rule in the 19th century. Under international law, all judicial corporal punishment constitutes torture or other ill-treatment, which is prohibited in all circumstances.

Refugees who fled torture and forced labour in Myanmar told Amnesty International how Malaysia (which does not recognise refugees) caned them for immigration violations, sometimes repeatedly. In Indonesia, Amnesty International met migrant workers deported by boat from Malaysia; 63 of the men had been caned.

“Neighbouring countries significantly contribute to Malaysia’s economy by sending tens of thousands of migrant workers,” said Sam Zarifi. “Indonesia and other migrant-sending countries should insist that Malaysia stop caning their citizens.”

Amnesty International called on the Malaysian government to:

  • Enact immediately a moratorium on caning punishment in all cases, with a view to its abolition;
  • Ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Amend legislation to treat immigration violations as administrative offences rather than crimes punishable by prison or corporal punishment.

Go to the Amnesty website to download the full report ‘A blow to humanity: Torture by judicial caning in Malaysia’.

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
AgreeToDisagree
26 Dec 2010 2.56am

Torture of mind is more heinous than torture of body. Would Aliran not begin expositions on the devices that are employed against citizen equals and free all those effectively living without privacy in a mental prison? Tell us what counter measures to use or are available?