Focus on the rape, lift interim protection order against ‘whistleblowers’ immediately

Eighteen NGOs are calling for three Mongolian women to be released, and focus put on rape investigations and the charging of the perpetrator.

Three Mongolian women lodged a police report of an abduction and sexual assault of two of their fellow Mongolian friends by a police inspector on 9 April 2020.

As a result, the two women were rescued by the police with the assistance of the three whistleblowers. The police inspector has since been remanded for five days.

We commend the swift actions by the police in investigating the alleged rape.

However, it has been reported that the three women whistleblowers have been detained by the police purportedly for their own safety. In this regard, the use of the Anti-Trafficking In Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM) is deeply concerning.

The police have since applied for an interim protection order to detain the whistleblowers to allegedly facilitate a police investigation on human trafficking. The magistrate granted an interim protection order for 21 days. They are currently being detained in a ‘safe house’.

It is disturbing that the three women who were seeking redress and justice for their friends have been detained in this manner. But for them, the rape of their friends would not have come to light. As such, they should be treated as whistleblowers, who should be protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, and not detained under the ATIPSOM.

We are deeply concerned that the investigation of the two women will be derailed by the new investigation on human trafficking. While the police are allowed to carry out simultaneous criminal investigations, we call on the police to remain focused on the actual issue at hand – the rape of the two women by the police inspector.

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The police’s swift and meaningful actions are imperative in alleviating fear, stress and trauma among girls, women, migrant workers and other marginalised groups to go out alone to buy food and other essential things. It is the state’s obligation to make cities safe for all persons. The fear and trauma could also negatively impact on health-seeking behaviour.

According to women’s rights groups, gender-based violence has increased sharply over the movement control order period. Many women and persons from marginalised groups have also reported harassment and intimidation by police officers at roadblocks.

This sobering incident is a timely moment to introduce a guideline on police interactions with members of the public, especially vulnerable persons and communities. Members of the public should have free access to redress should they face harassment, violence or abuse of power by law enforcement agencies.

We strongly urge that the interim protection order under the ATIPSOM be set aside, and the three women released, and the focus should be on rape investigations and charging the perpetrator.

Endorsed by:

  1. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
  2. Empower
  3. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FFSG)
  4. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  5. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  6. Justice for Sisters
  7. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC), Penang
  8. Perak Women For Women Society (PWW)
  9. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (Sawo)
  10. Suaram
  11. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  12. G25
  13. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak)
  14. Aliran
  15. Amnesty International Malaysia
  16. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  17. Engage
  18. KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women’s Division

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