We, the undersigned Malaysian civil society organisations, firmly and unequivocally reject the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill.
The bill, which was tabled in August 2020, is expected to be tabled for a second reading during this session of Parliament.
The proposed IPCC is a severely diluted version of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).
The design of the EAIC is itself a watered-down version of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
The IPCMC was proposed in 2005 by the Royal Commission of Inquiry to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.
There are several glaring issues with the IPCC bill, namely:
Independence and impartiality are questionable
The IPCC’s independence and impartiality are questionable as the home affairs minister is given the authority to appoint the secretary of the commission, instead of the commission collectively deciding the candidate.
Also, the bill does not restrict police involvement in the commission, thus allowing serving police officers and retired police officers to be part of the commission.
Limited investigative powers
Compared with the EAIC and IPCMC, the IPCC has limited investigative powers. Its taskforces do not have the powers conferred by the Criminal Procedure Code.
It does not have the power to conduct search and seizure in its investigations and it cannot visit lock-ups (cells) or any places of detention without prior notice.
On top of that, it has limited power to compel the surrender of documents and evidence if they are deemed “prejudicial to national security or national interest”.
Lack of enforcement powers
The IPCC bill deprives the commission of enforcement powers as it removes disciplinary power or the power to compel actions based on recommendations made by the commission.
Upon finding any police misconduct, the commission can only refer its findings to the Police Force Commission with a recommendation for disciplinary action.
The IPCC has no authority to compel the Police Force Commission to act or to report if any actions were taken within a stipulated time frame.
Police brutality and abuse of power violate basic human rights and pose serious threats to civilians. Over the years, enforced disappearances, torture, ill-treatment and deaths in custody have been rampant.
By shelving the IPCC bill and immediately tabling a new bill that enshrines the initial objectives and purpose of the IPCMC, as proposed by the bill drafted by the royal commission of inquiry, the government can:
Restore public trust
According to Transparency International, the Royal Malaysian Police ranks second highest for the perception of corruption, with 30% of Malaysians perceiving the institution as corrupt.
When there is an absence of public trust in the police, the police can neither enhance their effectiveness nor defend the legitimacy of their actions.
Worse, where there is no policing by consent, policing is likely to take more arbitrary and violent forms.
A dangerous, downward spiral of disengagement ultimately leads to spikes in violence and vigilantism, threatening the safety of citizens and the police alike, and further damaging public trust.
Hence, reviving the IPCMC bill is a highly urgent and important task, not only to restore the police’s long-tarnished reputation but also to rebuild police-community trust and to break the cycle of violence.
Ensure transitional justice
The IPCMC aims to pursue transitional justice for the deceased by punishing the guilty and protecting our inalienable right to life that is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
A total of 19 deaths in police custody have been reported within the first 11 weeks of 2022.
Yet, the reasons for the deaths remain unknown, and the progress of the investigations has yet to be revealed, leaving the families to bear the cost of injustice and suffer from perpetual grief.
We acknowledge that the police have established a death-in-custody investigation unit.
However, the only change we have seen is that this unit promptly issues public statements when deaths occur in police custody.
The investigations continue to be carried out by the police themselves without transparency, independent oversight or urgency.
Even though the statements released by the unit have caused immense public outrage and resulted in public complaints over the police’s failure to release information previously released in Parliament, no improvements have been made to the statements.
Also, there have been no corresponding reports of related prosecutions or disciplinary actions.
Three months since the unit’s establishment, we have no reason to believe it has made any impact on the culture of impunity within the police force.
Fulfil state obligations
As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the government must demonstrate its serious commitment to preventing the tragedy and brutality of police misconduct from continuing to haunt the nation indefinitely, as well as become an exemplar of good police practices.
The establishment of an independent oversight body, such as the IPCMC, will contribute to the realisation of several targets under the sustainable development goals.
This includes target 16.1, which is significantly reducing all forms of violence and related death rates, and target 16.3, which is promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensuring equal access to justice for all.
We urge the home affairs minister to immediately shelve the IPCC Bill and return to the drawing board to craft an IPCMC bill which shall uphold the original spirit of an oversight body proposed by the royal commission of inquiry.
A new bill must promote police accountability and guarantee a commission which is
- Impartial, independent and transparent
- Mandated to receive, initiate and conduct investigations of serious abuses committed by the police and not be limited to minor disciplinary misconducts
- Mandated with real powers to investigate, initiate action and enforce its decision.
We also urge all MPs, who are endowed with reason and conscience, to reject the IPCC Bill.
- Agora Society Malaysia
- All Women’s Action Society
- Amnesty International Malaysia
- Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim)
- Angkatan Mahasiswa University Malaya
- Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK)
- Architects of Diversity Malaysia
- Borneo Komrad
- Centre for independent journalism (CIJ)
- Citizen Lab
- Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged
- Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth (Dapsy)
- Demokrat Kebangsaan
- Demokrat UM
- Eliminating Death and Abuse in Custody Together (Edict
- Gerak Malaysia
- Gerakan Guaman Rakyat (Gegar)
- Hak Siswa
- Institut Nyala
- Justice for Sisters
- Kelab Sastera Mahasiswa UMS (Karma)
- Kesatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya
- Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall youth
- Legal Dignity
- Liga Demokratik Rakyat
- Lyceum Society 稷下学社
- L-INC Foundation
- Malaysia Muda
- Malaysia Youths and Students Evolution Johor Branch (MYSE Johor)
- Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (Maju)
- Women’s Aid Organisation
- New Student Movement Alliance of Malaysia (Nesa)
- Parti Ikatan Demokratik Malaysia (Muda)
- Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
- Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak)
- Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
- Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham)
- Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
- Pertubuhan Serikat Rakyat Malaysia
- Pertubuhan Solidaritas
- Pusat Komas
- Save Musang King Alliance (Samka)
- Student Progressive Front UUM
- Suara Mahasiswa UMS
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
- Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
- Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall women’s division
- University of Malaya Association of New Youth
- UTM-MJIIT Voices
- Voice of Youtharian (VOY)