Friday, June 26, 2015

Malaysia among four Asean countries yet to ratify UN treaty on torture and cruelty


By:
 Han Kar Kay

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26, 2015:



Hasmy Agam (L)Malaysia is among four Asean countries which have yet to ratify the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment (CAT).


The three other countries were Singapore, Myanmar and Laos.

In support of victims of torture, particularly those who were abused while under police custody in the country, five groups — Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Amnesty International Malaysia (AI Malaysia), Malaysian Bar Council, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Lawyers for Liberty came together to urge the government to accede to the treaty.

Amnesty executive director Shamini Darshni said it was important to address torture cases in Malaysia for Suaram reported that in 2015, it had recorded a total of nine cases of police custodial deaths.

“It was reported that there were six deaths in hospital, one in lock-up, one in prison and another in a detention centre and thus, bringing the total number of deaths in police custody to 251 since the year 2000.

“While the ratification of the UN CAT will not mark a swift end to torture practices, it will however demonstrate the government’s firm commitment to put an end to this deplorable practice.

“Of course, it still takes time to change the practice even after signing the treaty,” she said during the official launch of the joint campaign here in University Malaya this morning.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said to date, 158 UN member states had accepted the CAT but Malaysia had yet to accede it.

“Over the years, there have been concerns raised by local and international communities concerning Malaysia’s seriousness in combating torture, particularly in view of the high incidents of custodial deaths in the country.

“The government should accede to the CAT to ensure that its law enforcement agencies are duty-bound to comply with provisions and to protect people against torture or other forms of ill-treatment,” he said.

Other groups voiced similar views — in which Malaysian Bar Council president Steven Thiru said it was inexplicable as to why Malaysia had yet to ratify UN CAT.

During the two-hour discussion with guests from the five groups, speakers addressed the seriousness of custodial deaths in Malaysia.

At one juncture, police officers who attended the session were caught offguard when asked to comment on the rising custodial deaths in Malaysia.

In recent years, a surge of custodial deaths in custody had sparked anger among Malaysians.

Some of the notable and high-profile cases of deaths in custody were A. Kugan and Teoh Beng Hock.

Those who would like to support Amnesty’s Stop Torture campaign, visit amnesty.my

~ The Rakyat Post

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