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Police complaints commission should be independent, empowered to be effective

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The National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (Hakam) welcomes the prime minister’s announcement that the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) will be strengthened and converted to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police had recommended that the IPCMC be set up as an independent external commission tasked solely to receive and investigate complaints of misconduct and abuse against the police. Such an external oversight mechanism has been effective in bringing about police accountability in other jurisdictions.

The EAIC, as presently constituted, has failed to bring about police accountability in Malaysia. The EAIC has the power to investigate and document complaints, and recommendations are then submitted to police. But the EAIC cannot compel the police to accept or implement its recommendations. Further, the EAIC has no enforcement powers. As such, the IPCMC cannot function under the present EAIC Act 2009.

It is imperative that an IPCMC bill as drafted by the royal commission be enacted into legislation to have an effective IPCMC as the bill is based on international standards on police accountability.

The IPCMC must be an independent commission that has the power to receive and investigate complaints and misconduct in the police force and impose the relevant penalties for misconduct against police personnel.

We strongly are of the view that the establishment of the IPCMC would lead to the elimination or reduction of deaths in custody, abuse by the police, corruption, deaths from shooting and police inaction on complaints received.

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The IPCMC will lead to a professional and disciplined police force that is based on the values of integrity, efficiency, accountability and service.

Dato’ Sri M Ramachelvam is deputy president of Hakam.

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