Wednesday, October 9, 2013

‘Shoot First’ Policy of Malaysian Police : “Home Minister Zahid is Malaysia’s top law enforcement official, yet he is promoting the illegal use of lethal force. Prime Minister Najib should be clear he won’t tolerate such statements or unlawful practices, which show a callous disregard for basic right

Phil Robertson

Said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. He was commenting on Malaysian home minister’s support for the police to “shoot first” when apprehending criminal suspects. Referring Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's speech justifying his stand, Robertson said : “Killings of criminal suspects by Malaysian police suggest that Minister Zahid’s disturbing remarks may already reflect the practice of some law enforcement officials. Too many people have died in a hail of police bullets for Malaysia’s leaders to continue to sit on their hands.” Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a news release of October 8, 2013, has alleged that "the home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made remarks in a speech in Malacca on October 6, 2013, that showed gross indifference for the right to life and the rights of the country’s minority populations." Zahid in his speech - an audio recording of which was made public by the online news portal Malaysiakini - reportedly claimed that 28,000 of some 40,000 gang members in the country were Indian Malaysians who prey on the majority ethnic Malay population. 
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

He also said : “What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race. I think that the best way is we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any warning. If [we] get the evidence, [we] shoot first.” 

Human Rights Watch has appealed to Prime Minister Najib Razak to remove the home minister because he has been racial and violating human rights. There have been reports of extra-judicial killings, ethnic cleansing under the guise of combating crime, and detention without trial. Human Rights Watch has highlighted specific incidences in this regard.

World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT)- a Switzerland based NGO - and its member organisation SUARAM, in Malaysia, have also reported serious human rights violations committed by the police and other law enforcement agencies such as the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Immigration Department. According to a recent report of the OMCT-SUARAM, human rights violations have included torture and other forms of ill-treatment, notably unnecessary and excessive use of force and firearms when carrying out arrests and public order policing. The Malaysian Police has continued to pursue a “shoot first” policy against suspects with impunity. Since 2009, SUARAM has documented about 173 cases of police fatal shootings and 24 cases of suspicious deaths in custody, while two deaths occurred at the MACC offices. Malaysia continues to have a legal frame work that creates an environment facilitating torture and ill-treatment. A “shoot first” policy by law enforcement personnel violates international human rights law and standards. OMCT-SUARAM urged the government to show its commitment to abolish torture and other forms of ill-treatment by ratifying and implementing effectively the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention AgainstTorture (OPCAT).

In a press release today, Lawyers for Liberty - a human rights and law reform initiative - has also condemned Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s ‘shoot first’ approach to law enforcement and demanded that the home minister must be arrested and prosecuted. "By encouraging law enforcers to ‘shoot first’, the Home Minister has effectively ordered policemen and officials to disregard the criminal justice system, due process and has legitimized the cold-blooded murder of ‘suspects’ without ever being brought before a court of law," the release said.

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