Malaysia’s call to action: Ending torture starts with ratifying the UN convention

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As Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) marks the 40th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, we commemorate all victims and survivors of torture.

Despite Malaysia’s unwavering condemnation of genocide and use of torture in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories, we are ironically among the few countries worldwide that has not yet internationally committed to zero tolerance for torture.

Suaram thus demands that the Malaysian government live up to international standards, to which we hold other governments accountable – by ratifying the UN convention now.

Torture in custody is a recurring issue within Malaysia, with obstructed access to justice a widespread reality for victims, survivors and their families.

Based on Suaram’s past and current cases, the majority of victims and survivors are still denied independent and impartial investigations by the state into their ordeals, even years after having endured torture at the hands of law enforcement.

This also mercilessly applies to youth in conflict with the law, namely 16-year-old Ang Kian Kok in 2017, who was also an eyewitness to Balamurugan’s death in police custody, and 18-year-old Mitheswaran Kumar in 2021.

Despite intervention by the national human rights commission Suhakam, the government has neither punished the perpetrators involved nor provided reparations to these boys.

Ignoring these past and ongoing injustices is unbefitting for a government that has extensively preached “Madani” (civil and compassionate) values and tooted their own horn about its commitment to accountability.

As we reiterate our call to the government to explicitly commit to ratifying the UN convention during the Universal Periodic Review outcome report adoption session this coming week, we also demand that zero tolerance against torture be concretised by:

  • Investigations of past and ongoing cases of torture in custody, with unhindered access to reparation and rehabilitation for victims and survivors
  • Full implementation of the Mendez principles on effective interviewing, which offer guidance on information-gathering during criminal investigations while protecting human rights, and
  • Alignment of domestic legislation and policies, including the Federal Constitution, with the UN convention against torture to effectively prohibit torture and create positive environments that reinforce an accountable administration of justice

Sevan Doraisamy is the executive director of Suaram.

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.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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