Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eight deaths in police custody in less than six months - 10 June 2014

For immediate release
10 June 2014

Eight deaths in police custody in less than six months – Urgent need for police reform

Suaram condemns the police for the failure to prevent the latest two cases of death in police custody that took place in Penang and Kuantan despite public outcry on the rising cases of death in police custody.

The latest victims were Agin Raj, who was detained by Bandar Perda police station on 2 June prior to his death in Bukit Mertajam Hospital on 7 June, and Koh Kheng Soon, who was arrested and detained at Kuantan police station on 5 June and was found dead the next day in the police station on 6 June.

The police claimed that Agin Raj died of lack of oxygen to the brain resulting in breathing difficulties while and the same claim of breathing difficulties was made on the case of Koh Kheng Soon by the police.

Suaram is however alarmed that the sister of Agin Raj spotted injuries on the body and legs of his brother, to which the police suggested that these may have been sustained prior to his arrest. It is even more suspicious in the case of Koh Kheng Soon, who died after just spending a night in Kuantan police station and the family has alleged cover-up of his death by the police.

Suaram calls on inquest by the coroner’s court to be immediately conducted on both cases to determine the actual cause of deaths and the responsibilities of the police officers involved.   

These two cases added to the alarming statistic of death in police custody rising to a total of eight cases even before we have even ended the first half of the year, compared to 12 cases in total in 2013. This makes the ratio of 1.3 deaths in police custody every month in 2014.

Below are the names of suspects who died in police custody for the year 2014:

10 Feb 2014
A. Punniyanathan
Nibong Tebal Police Station, Penang
18 Feb 2014
J. Kulanthangam
Dang Wangi Police Station, Kuala Lumpur
1 Mac 2014
Ramasamy Nagu
Bayan Baru Police Station, Penang
13 April 2014
Murugan Muniandy
IPD Seberang Perai Tengah, Penang
16 April 2014
Morgan Arjunan
Jinjang Police Station, Kuala Lumpur
27 April 2014
Rahamat Md Noor
Bayan Baru Police Station, Penang
7 Jun 2014
Naidu Agin Raj
Bukit Mertajam Hospital and was held by Bandar Perda Police Station, Penang prior to the admission into hospital
7 Jun 2014
Kor Kheng Soon
Kuantan Police Station, Pahang

Police station, a place considered to be safe looks opposite in reality. The pertinent question remains, why do the suspects have to lose their lives after being detained and even before proven that they are guilty as charged? Why a detainee could die in police station for just spending a night in police lock-up?  

The possibilities of death after arrest can be attributed to two possibilities, one, poor screening and assessment of health condition of suspects detained; and two, torture or abuse by the police towards suspects during investigations.

An officer who fails to provide the necessary medical attention to a suspect is a clear sign of negligence. This negligence leads to death. It is even a greater crime when a suspect is tortured and subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment to coerce confession. Such torture and cruel treatment, leads to injuries, and at times, death.  

Every individual’s right to life is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. Article 5 provides that “…No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law… Similarly, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “…Everyone has the right to life, to be free and to feel safe…”

It is high time for the government to address the root-causes of recurring death in custody cases. The government must address the rootcauses of death in custody and step up the medical check-up system and services in all police stations and legislate anti-torture law to prevent such incidents from happening again.

More importantly, there must be no impunity for police officer who have neglected their duties or committed acts of torture. They should be held accountable and brought to justice. The Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is needed more than ever to investigate public complaints against police officers who abused their power and restore the credibility and accountability of the police force.    

SUARAM demands an immediate end to these serious human rights violations. The failure to ensure effective mechanisms to hold the Malaysian police accountable highlight a serious lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police force in this country.

Released by,

Theva Rajan

For inquiry, please contact Mr. Theva Rajan at +60 13 3845740 or email at