Suhakam report, 17 April 2013
Suhakam condemns police cover-up of its actions
The human rights commission, Suhakam, has severely criticised Malaysian police for acting in bad faith at the Bersih rally on April 28 last year, including deliberately targeting journalists to prevent them from recording events at the rally.
It also condemned what appeared to be a police cover-up of its actions, by failing to investigate reports lodged against them for brutality, and not taking any action after almost a year.
Suhakam released its report yesterday on its inquiry into the events at the Bersih rally, but its severe condemnation of police actions came through despite the moderate tone and cautious language that the commissioners adopted.
The report is the final action by the commissioners before their term expires in two weeks.
The commission said:
- The police force acted in bad faith in handling the rally, violating the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act
- The police took unreasonable and unjustified measures in trying to control the crowd, which included preventing media personnel from carrying out its duties.
- The police had not assisted or facilitated in the dispersal of participants, who were not given sufficient and reasonable time to disperse in an orderly and safe manner.
- The police failed to immediately arrest the individuals responsible in breaking the barricade around Merdeka Square, especially because the incident took place within a visible distance for some officers.
- “Instead, for reasons only best known to them, the police made the decision to disperse the crowd using water cannons and tear gas.”
- Despite a host of reports lodged against police personnel, the police had not completed investigation nor taken action into any one of these reports after almost a year.
- Police failed to cooperate with the Suhakam inquiry, failing to send a full list of officers on duty that day and not sending any officer able to respond to allegations of police brutality
- This was not the first time Suhakam had made recommendations regarding police conduct in handling public assemblies
- Many of Suhakam’s recommendations had not been implemented by the police.
The commission also made further recommendations for the police, among them:
• make public all the Standard Operating Procedures of the police in handling public assemblies
• review and amend standing procedures and standing orders to better handle public assemblies.
• make a clear distinction between a riot and a peaceful rally
• allow reasonabletime for rally participants to disperse in an orderly fashion
• police at all times to wear permanent name tags or identification body numbers.
• plain-clothed officers not be involved in dispersal or arrests.
• police and media have a briefing before public assemblies.
• complete investigations on reports lodged against acts committed by police personnel.
from Malaysiakini’s report – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/227111