Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is appalled by the ‘new’ Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) introduced by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government in Parliament on 26 August.
After the initial claims that the government will be tabling a new bill instead of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill proposed by Pakatan Harapan, the bill tabled in Parliament shows that PN merely took an earlier form of the IPCMC Bill, introduced in October 2019, and further weakened it before retabling it as though it was a new bill.
The whole machination is a waste of public resources and an attempt to subvert and bypass the consultation and recommendations of the parliamentary Select Committee for Consideration of Bills.
The ‘new’ bill introduced by PN reintroduced fatal flaws that would undermine the functions of the IPCMC/IPCC and render it completely irrelevant and a waste of public funds.
Key areas of concerns include:
- Requirements for early notice for the commission to visit detention centres
- Removal of disciplinary power or power to compel actions based on recommendations made
- ‘Exemption’ of acts provided for in the inspector general’s standing orders (Sections 96 and 97 of the Police Act 1967)
- Power for police officers to refuse to answer the commission if it may expose other police officers to criminal charges or penalty
- Power to refuse the disclosure of sensitive documents or information on the grounds of national security or national interest
With the inclusion of this sections in the IPCC Bill, the commission will be worse than the existing mechanisms under the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) as investigation for key misconduct does not include acts covered by the inspector general’s standing orders, police officers can refuse to answer based on a subjective and arbitrary excuse, and there is no power for the commission to ensure its recommendations are implemented.
Suaram calls on the PN to review the recommendations put forward by the parliamentary Select Committee for Consideration of Bills and include them in the proposed IPCC.
Introducing a commission that is doomed to failure at a time when the police are struggling with allegations of serious misconduct that includes police brutality, custodial deaths and enforced disappearance will only further tarnish the reputation of the police force and affirm public mistrust of the police force.
An accountable and professional police force would not fear any scrutiny by an independent commission as public scrutiny provides the police force with an opportunity to address public concerns and prove that the police force is not involved in any misconduct and are held accountable for any misconduct committed.