Jawapan Edict kepada kenyataan media peguam negara (Malay/English)

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We need to avoid congestion in cells and prisons - File photo: themalaymailonline

Kenyataan ini adalah respon Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together’s (Edict’s) terhadap dakwaan-dakwaan Peguam Negara Idrus Harun di dalam kenyataannya yang bertarikh 27 April 2020 yang disiarkan melalui laman web Pejabat Peguam Negara.

Ketika menulis kenyataan ini, tiga laporan berita telah dikirim ke peti masuk email kami iaitu:

  • pertama, “Timbalan Menteri Kesihatan, Exco Kerajaan Negeri Perak, didenda RM1,000 (kerana melanggar PKP)”
  • kedua, “Ibu tunggal dipenjara 30 hari kerana langgar PKP mahu hukuman disemak”
  • ketiga, “Tiada Kes Terhadap MB Terengganu Isu Dakwaan Langgar PKP, Kata Polis” – laporan ini menambah bahawa pendakwaraya memutuskan “tiada tindakan lanjut”

Kami juga menulis berdasarkan satu lagi laporan berita bertajuk “Lebih 20,000 orang ditahan kerana melanggar PKP sejak 18 Mac.” Laporan itu menyebut: pada 25 April sahaja, seramai 505 orang telah direman dan 72 orang dilepaskan dengan jaminan polis.

Adakah laporan-laporan tersebut menunjukkan bahawa konsep kesaksamaan sepertimana yang terkandung dalam Artikel 8, Perlembagaan Persekutuan digunapakai dan ditegakkan?

Kini kami ingin merujuk kepada kenyataan peguam negara.

Pertama, kami dapati bahawa peguam negara telah memberikan maklum balas terhadap kenyataan kami yang bertarikh 9 April, bukannya surat terbuka kami yang bertarikh 4 April, yang mana telah kami rujuk dalam kenyataan bertarikh 9 April tersebut.

Dalam surat terbuka kami, kami telah meminta peguam negara untuk menjawab enam isu yang menjadi kebimbangan kami secara spesifik. Walau bagaimanapun, kenyataan beliau langsung tidak menyentuh enam perkara yang kami bangkitkan tersebut.

Kedua, kami dapati bahawa peguam negara menyatakan kami mendakwa beliau “telah gagal untuk mengemukakan sebarang garis panduan kepada para DPP bagi memastikan keseragaman dalam pelaksanaan dan penguatkuasaan perintah kawalan pergerakan.” Kami menafikan bahawa kami telah membuat dakwaan tersebut.

Apa yang kami tulis adalah: “Ramai yang bertanya [empat hari selepas surat terbuka itu disiarkan] sama ada peguam negara telah mengeluarkan sebarang garis panduan atau sebaliknya. Kami masih tidak dihubungi oleh pihak peguam negara. Kami tidak menerima sebarang maklumbalas sama ada berlaku perubahan dalam proses penguatkuasaan tersebut. Justeru, kami berpendapat, pihak peguam negara masih belum mengambil apa-apa tindakan berkenaan kebimbangan yang telah kami utarakan tersebut.”

Ketiga, peguam negara merujuk kepada mekanisme dalaman. Namun, beliau tidak menyentuh langsung mengenai reaksi orang awam tentang peranan beliau dalam menangani ketidakpuasan hati masyarakat terhadap pelbagai aspek dalam pelaksanaan perintah kawalan pergerakan – tidak seperti yang telah dilakukan oleh ketua hakim negara, kedua-dua hakim besar dan ketua pengarah Jabatan Penjara.

Keempat, peguam negara berkata “sesetengah perkara seperti tempoh reman dan hukuman bukanlah di bawah bidang kuasa AG, oleh itu, ia adalah di luar kawalan AG.”

Dengan hormatnya kami ingin menjelaskan, kami tidak pernah menyatakan bahawa timbalan pendakwa raya membuat permohonan reman dalam kes-kes berkaitan perintah kawalan pergerakan. Seperti yang diperuntukkan dalam Seksyen 117 Kanun Prosedur Jenayah, adalah menjadi tugas polis untuk membuat permohonan reman. Apa yang kami maksudkan adalah kes-kes tersebut tidak perlu direman.

Mahkamah Persekutuan bersependapat dengan kami, yang mana dalam laman webnya menyebut “tujuan reman adalah untuk memberi lebih masa untuk pihak polis melengkapkan siasatan dan memutuskan sama ada terdapat bukti yang cukup untuk mendakwa suspek atas satu-satu kesalahan”. Bukankah ini jelas bahawa reman tidak diperlukan bagi kesalahan yang boleh dikompaun?

Oleh sebab kertas siasatan diserahkan kepada Pejabat Peguam Negara untuk pendakwaan – setelah 40 hari tempoh perintah kawalan pergerakan ini – adalah wajar untuk kami menjangkakan bahawa peguam negara akan mengeluarkan arahan atau garis panduan kepada pihak polis untuk tidak memohon perintah reman dalam kes-kes tersebut.

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Ini dapat menjamin penjarakan sosial dipatuhi sebagaimana yang dituntut oleh pihak yang berkuasa, yang mana ia adalah langkah yang penting dalam mengawal penularan wabak. Juga umum diketahui bahawa meskipun dalam keadaan biasa sebelum pandemik ini, tahanan tidak tertakluk kepada pemeriksaan kesihatan sebelum dimasukkan ke dalam lokap.

Kami juga ingin tahu mengapa terdapat sebahagian kes yang direman dan sebahagian lagi tidak? Contohnya, mengapa tiada reman ke atas timbalan menteri kesihatan dan exco kerajaan negeri Perak dalam kes yang kami rujuk sebelum ini?

Kelima, peguam negara langsung tidak menyentuh mengenai kes seorang pembantu kedai yang dituduh di bawah Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia (AKM), seperti yang telah kami rujuk dalam kenyataan kami tersebut.

Apakah keperluan untuk mendakwa beliau dengan segera dalam tempoh perintah kawalan pergerakan? Persoalan ini adalah penting di mana seperti yang telah kami nyatakan, menurut jawapan dalam sidang Parlimen, dalam tempoh 12 bulan sehingga Oktober 2019, sebanyak 153 kes telah disiasat dibawah Seksyen 233 AKM, tetapi belum ada satu pun yang didakwa.

Adakah “garis panduan” yang peguam negara rujuk dalam kenyataannya itu turut melibatkan pendakwaan bagi kes-kes selain perintah kawalan pergerakan? Beliau tidak menyatakannya.

Keenam, dalam kenyataan kami, kami juga merujuk kepada satu komen oleh seorang timbalan pendakwa raya di media sosial tentang tindakan polis merotan mereka yang disyaki melanggar perintah kawalan pergerakan adalah wajar menurut undang-undang. Adakah “garis panduan” yang dimaksudkan oleh peguam negara dalam kenyataannya menjawab isu mengenai timbalan pendakwa raya membuat komen sedemikian di media sosial? Hal ini juga tidak dijawab.

Ketujuh, kami maklum bahawa peguam negara menyatakan,”… para DPP serta PDRM dan Mahkamah sentiasa bekerja keras dalam keadaan yang baru ini di samping mendedahkan diri mereka kepada risiko jangkitan.” Kami ingin menambah, mereka semua – dan lain-lain pihak termasuk para peguambela – tidak sepatutnya didedahkan kepada risiko jangkitan atas sebab kekurangan dalam “garis panduan” tersebut, yang mana akan mendesak kesemua pihak untuk hadir ke mahkamah dan hukuman penjara, sedangkan terdapat pilihan yang lain.

Kelapan, kami ingin mengingatkan peguam negara bahawa, dalam surat terbuka kami, kami menyedari bahawa kita sedang berada di dalam satu keadaan yang luar dari kebiasaan dan mencabar. Kami telah menawarkan kerjasama. Kami juga menyokong pendakwaan untuk kes-kes yang sangat jelas melanggar perintah kawalan pergerakan dan juga kes berkaitan penghinaan ke atas anggota penguatkuasa.

Kesembilan, dalam kenyataan kami (pada 9 April), kami dengan jelas menyatakan bahawa kami bimbang sekiranya masyarakat akan hilang kepercayaan terhadap sistem keadilan negara jika isu-isu yang telah kami utarakan tersebut tidak ditangani. Kritikan kami adalah sentiasa membina.

Kesepuluh, kami menekankan bahawa kami amat mengambil berat akan tanggungjawab kami sebagai rakyat untuk bekerjasama dengan penjawat awam. Kami tidak suka berprasangka dan mencela. Kami menafikan bahawa kenyataan kami adalah berlandaskan andaian, celaan atau tidak disokong oleh fakta. Kami menegaskan bahawa segala kenyataan yang kami keluarkan adalah berlandaskan fakta yang jelas. Kami sentiasa bersedia untuk memberikan segala bukti dan sumber rujukan kami sekiranya diminta.

Akhir sekali, kami ingin mengingatkan, ribuan orang sedang ditahan dan direman akibat kesalahan yang boleh dikompaun tersebut.

Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah memperuntukkan kuasa yang amat besar kepada peguam negara yang mana dengan itu, beliau boleh memainkan peranannya bagi meredakan keresahan masyarakat dalam situasi pandemik ini.

Dengan hormatnya, kami meminta peguam negara agar berbuat demikian dan dilihat melakukannya.

English version

Edict’s response to the attorney general’s media statement

This statement is Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together’s (Edict’s) response to allegations made against us by Attorney General Idrus Harun in his statement dated 27 April 2020, posted on the website of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

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While drafting this statement, three news reports entered our inboxes:

  • The first is titled “Deputy health minister, Perak exco fined RM1,000 each for breaching MCO”)
  • The second is titled “Single mum jailed 30 days for breaching MCO wants sentence revised”
  • The third is titled “Terengganu MB off the hook for MCO violation, says cops” – this report adds that the “No Further Action” decision was made by the public prosecutor (Attorney General’s Chambers)

We also write against the background of another news report, titled “Over 20,000 arrested for violating MCO since 18 March”. The report also says: on 25 April alone, 505 people were remanded and 72 were released on police bail.

Do those reports show that the equality principle enshrined in Article 8 of our Federal Constitution is being adhered to and upheld?

Now, we come to the attorney general’s statement.

First, we note that the attorney general has responded to our 9 April statement, not to our open letter to him on 4 April, which we referenced in our 9 April statement. In our open letter, we asked him to address six specific concerns. His statement does not address those concerns.

Second, we note that he says we claimed the Attorney General’s Chambers “has failed to issue any guidelines to prosecutors to ensure even-handed implementation and enforcement of the movement control order”. We deny that we made such a claim.

What we wrote is: “Many have asked us [four days after our open letter] whether the AG has issued any guidelines. We have not been contacted by the AG. We have not received any feedback which indicates any change in the process of enforcement. We conclude that to-date, the AG has not addressed the concerns we raised.”

Third, he refers to internal mechanisms. He makes no reference to any public responses on his part to address the public outcry over various aspects of the implementation of the movement control order – unlike the chief justice, the two chief judges and the director general of prisons.

Fourth, he says, “it must be remembered that some matters, like remands and sentencing, are not powers within the purview therefore control of the attorney general.”

We respectfully point out that we did not say deputy public prosecutors make remand applications in movement control order cases. As provided for in Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is police officers who most often make remand applications. Our point is that these cases do not need remand.

The Federal Court agrees with us. We note that its website says: “The purpose of remand is to give more time to the police to complete the investigation and to decide whether there is enough evidence to charge the suspect for the suspected offence.” Is it not obvious that remand is not necessary for compoundable offences?

Since the investigation papers come to the Attorney General’s Chambers for prosecutions, we think it only reasonable to expect – 40 days into the movement control order – that the attorney general will issue directives or guidelines to the police not to apply for remand in such cases. This is especially warranted as support for the social distancing policies which the authorities have identified as critical for curbing the pandemic. It is also public knowledge that, even in normal times, detainees are not subjected to medical examinations prior to incarceration in lock-ups.

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We also ask why some should be remanded and others not – for example, why was there no remand for the deputy health minister and the Perak executive council member in the cases we mentioned at the outset?

Fifth, the attorney general did not touch on the case of the shop assistant whose prosecution under Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act Act we mentioned in our statement.

What was the urgency of prosecuting her during the movement control order? This question is especially pertinent since – as we also pointed out – according to a parliamentary reply, in the 12 months till October 2019, 153 cases were investigated under Section 233, but none were prosecuted.

Do the “guidelines” the attorney general refers to in his statement address the issue of non-movement control order prosecutions? He does not say.

Sixth, in our statement we also referred to a deputy public prosecutor making comments on social media that caning by the police of movement control order suspects is supported by law. Do the “guidelines” the attorney general refers to in his statement address the issue of deputy public prosecutors making such comments on social media? He does not say.

Seventh, we note that the attorney general says, “… DPPs, as well as PDRM and the Courts, have been working hard under novel conditions while potentially exposing themselves to the risk of infection.” We would add that they – and others such as defence lawyers – are unnecessarily exposed because of seeming inadequacies in the “guidelines” which result in pressing for court appearances and jail sentences when other options are available.

Eighth, we remind the attorney general that in our open letter we recognised that we are in uncharted territory. We offered collaboration. We even encouraged prosecutions for flagrant breaches of the movement control order and of people who abuse enforcement officers.

Ninth, in our statement (of 9 April), we explicitly stated that we feared there would be erosion of public confidence in the administration of justice if the concerns we raised are not addressed. Our purpose is always to be constructive.

Tenth, we stress that we are very conscious of our duty as citizens to cooperate with those who hold public office. We abhor conjecture and diatribe. We deny that our statement contained any elements of conjecture, diatribe or lack of grounding in facts. We are adamant that any statement we make must be fact-based. We are always willing to support what we say with evidence/sources when requested.

We end with a further reminder. Thousands are being arrested and remanded for compoundable offences. The Federal Constitution endows the attorney general with great powers which he can exercise to calm the public in this pandemic. With the greatest of respect, we say that he must do so and be seen to be doing so.

29 April 2020

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