KUALA LUMPUR: On 3 April 2019, Suhakam, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, completed a thorough investigation into the disappearances of Shiite social activist Amri Che Mat and Christian pastor Raymond Koh. Suhakam issued two reports. Copies were supplied to all members of Parliament.
The authors were a retired judge of the Court of Appeal and two law professors. Their decision was unanimous. The evidence was conclusive. The pair were abducted by the Special Branch (SB), Bukit Aman.
The SB is a unit of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM). It reports to the Inspector General of Police.
Then PM Mahathir belittled Suhakam’s decision. The public was outraged. The Cabinet noticed and responded. It instructed Home Minister Muhyiddin to form a task force to investigate Suhakam’s report.
The task force appears to have submitted its report to Muhyiddin in January 2020. Muhyiddin sealed it under the Official Secrets Act.
A couple of months later Muhyiddin became Prime Minister. We have no reason to believe any action has been taken in response to the report. We presume the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has the report.
The AGC is acting for the defendants in the civil suits the families of Amri and Raymond have brought against 13 parties including the government.
A judge of the High Court ordered the government to release the report to Amri’s family. The AGC has appealed the order. This is unjust since the defendants have information which the plaintiffs do not have.
The withholding of the report adds to the injustice of hiding the truth about who ordered and who collaborated in the cover-up of the extra-legal, involuntary, enforced, disappearances of Amri and Raymond.
But there’s worse. The AGC is now mounting embarrassing challenges to the evidence being presented during the ongoing civil suit.
The Senior Federal Counsel (from the AGC) has suggested that the eyewitness who reported Raymond’s abduction lied! That a death threat which Raymond reported to the police wasn’t intended for him! That much of the evidence accepted by the Suhakam commissioners is unreliable!
The AGC’s stance is an affront to Parliament which created and empowered Suhakam to do what it did in the investigations. It is also an affront to Malaysia’s commitments to the United Nations, especially after seeking and winning membership of the Human Rights Council.
Worse, it is a pandering by the government to the police, since senior officers who should be confronted with the maximum penalty for abduction (death sentence), roam free either in retirement or in office.
We call on the government to dare to do what no government to-date has dared to do: demonstrate that the police too must abide by the law.
We call on the Home Minister to: (1) establish and fund a task force to find Amri and Raymond; (2) investigate every implicated serving or retired officer and charge him/her for the crime of abduction; (3) work with, rather than against the families – seek peace, not war.
Do not insult us by saying comment or action is impossible because the matter is in court. We are asking you to respect the courts and work in parallel with them for justice. Do not use the courts as cover for failures.
We also note that on 15 April 2022 Suhakam issued its report in the case of Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu. Suhakam reported many serious failures in how the police handle cases of missing persons. We call upon the Home Minister to reveal what actions have been taken in response.
*Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) is a human rights non-governmental organisation that focuses on possible cases of enforced disappearances.*
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