Pursue death in custody cases as murder

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Photograph: freemalaysiatoday.com

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is concerned with the deaths of Nik Muhammad Baihaqy Nik Mat and Muhammad Lailatuliman Mohd Syukri who died in naval detention centre in Sungai Wangi, Sitiawan, Perak.

The deaths of the two individuals represent the 10th and 11th known cases of deaths in custody in Malaysia in 2017.

The post-mortem by Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital revealed that both the deceased died of injuries caused by blunt force trauma. This contradicts the Royal Malaysian Navy press statement on 30 September 2017 that claims that the initial investigation revealed that there were no signs of injury on either of the deceased.

The contradiction raises substantial concerns that there was an attempt to muddle the information and cause of death by those involved. Furthermore, the deaths of the two individuals raise additional concerns with regard to the treatment of detainees in armed forces detention camps.

Suaram welcomes the initiative of the Royal Malaysian Police with this investigation and the acceptance that deaths in custody should be investigated as murder. Suaram calls for the investigations to be conducted transparently and for all future death in custody cases to be investigated as murder until proven otherwise. Past death in custody cases should also be re-examined and investigations conducted as murder investigation in line with civil society’s past recommendations.

Suaram also extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and stands in solidarity with them.

Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram.

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