TI-Malaysia lauds the government for tabling the IPCMC bill after 14 years
Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) lauds and welcomes the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for finally preparing the Independent Police Complaints Monitoring Commission (IPCMC) bill for tabling in the next session of parliament. After 14 years of waiting, deaths and abuses in custody, and mounting pressure from civil society amidst political tensions, the time is right for improved oversight and accountability!
We had hoped this bill would be treated in an open and transparent manner – involving the consultation of multiple stakeholders, including SUHAKAM, NGOs and the Bar Council.
TI-M is concerned with certain provisions of the act, such as in the following sections:
Section 6 (1): appointment of the commission members by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister. Section 50 deals with the establishment of rules to carry out the allocations of this act; which also falls solely on the Prime Minister. If Prime Minister was serious about his statement last week, about Ms Lateefa Koya being the last appointment using the ‘old method’ and all future key appointments using the parliamentary select committees (PSC), why is this clause not at the advice of parliament or a PSC? This may lead to future debates on the rule of law and whether the Prime Minister chooses to exercise this power or selectively ‘allow’ the bi-partisan PSC to carry out the appointment.
Section 25(d): the definitions of terms such as “remeh” (petty), “menyusahkan” (troublesome), “suci hati” (pure of heart) and “terlalu lama” (too old) are vague, not clearly defined and subject to unnecessary interpretation. The IPCMC should be free to open cold cases that are of public interest, and should also be limited from making moral judgements about the sincerity and purity of complaints lodged.
Section 26(4): the penalty for non-compliance is set at a maximum of RM10,000, is far too low to be an effective deterrent; as other similar acts impose a higher maximum for similar non-compliance. The penalty should have a higher maximum amount; as penalised parties will have access to due process and may apply for a reduced amount, and similarly the commission may also choose to exercise judgement in meting out penalties.
Section 28(2)(b) in case of criminal findings, refer the findings to the relevant authorities; in the case of crimes involving the penal code such as rape, sodomy, murder, mental or physical abuse and kidnapping, the ‘relevant authorities’ would be the police – whom are not required to report statistics or have the annual reports of cases presented to parliament in the same manner as the IPCMC; and have a long history of inaction against internal investigations. Also, what is the purpose of the IPCMC if it does not have any bite against the most serious crimes (if and when) committed by members of the police.
However, it is also commendable that the bill has taken several measures to ensure the IPCMC has some bite and independence. We would like to highlight the following sections:
Section 6(2): which prevents the appointments of ex or serving police or government/public officers as commission members. This is an important move to ensure integrity and reduce conflicts of interest. We hope this restriction would be extended to the appointment of officers of the commission as well; to prevent any bias or perceptions of bias in the execution of investigations and duties of the officers.
Section 47: for police to report the details of any deaths in custody directly to the IPCMC. This is also a good step to ensure effective management of these miscarriages of justice. However, this section would be further enhanced if there was a time limit, and penalty for non-compliance – to prevent delays in transfer of information and potential (allegations of) cover-ups.
TI-M hopes the cabinet and the law ministry will be open to consultations with stakeholders and amendments to the bill (which act in favour of better governance). We also hope the above gaps and recommendations will be adequately addressed and the spirit of an independent oversight mechanism, with teeth and free from political interference will be upheld, without any U-turns.
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