Teoh’s interrogation is equivalent to torture according to internationally-accepted human rights norms


KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The Malaysian Bar today backed a growing call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Teoh Beng Hock’s death, nothing that another person has been found dead under under questionable circumstances while in custody.

It also requested for a full review of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) protocols on interrogation and investigation techniques. Teoh was found dead outside the MACC Selangor headquarters on Thursday.

“It is astounding that yet another individual has been found dead, under highly questionable and dubious circumstances, in the context of an investigation conducted by yet another law enforcement agency,” Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan told reporters.

He expressed shock over the tragic circumstances of Teoh’s death and questioned the treatment of MACC over its suspects and witnesses. The political secretary of Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was being questioned as a witness for alleged misappropriation of state allocations.

“Such incidents merely cement, in the public mind, the perception that law enforcement officers are neither negligent or fulfilling the duty of care that they owe to those who have been called in to assist in investigations; even worse, severely abusive towards them,” Ragunath added.

Teoh was taken in for questioning by the MACC last Wednesday evening. The agency said he was freed a little after 3.45am on Thursday but his body was later found sprawled on the roof of a five-storey building next door at 1.30pm.

Ragunath noted this was not the first time the MACC had reportedly held witnesses and interrogated them overnight. He stressed that every detainee has the right to not be interrogated during the night.

Ragunath pointing out the discrepancies. - Picture by Choo Choy May
“Rule 20 of the Lockup Rules 1953 provides that detainees shall be locked up only for the night by 6.30pm and shall rise and be dressed by 6.30am,” he said.

Ragunath argued that this is the regulation for those who are accused and detained but Teoh was only a witness.

“If there was insufficient time to finish questioning Teoh during reasonable hours of the day, he should have been released and asked to return another day.

“He was not a flight risk and there was no risk of any evidence vanishing,” he said.

Ragunath also blasted the MACC for not allowing Teoh a legal counsel and said the officer had acted against the law. “Access to legal counsel is a highly imperative safeguard for the rights of the detained persons. It is for these reasons that Article 5 of the Federal Constitution and Section 28 ( 4) of the Criminal Procedure Code have been provided in order to guarantee a detained person’s rights of access to a to a legal practitioner of own choice.”

The Malaysian Bar also wants all MACC officers involved in Teoh’s interrogation to be suspended immediately while those who have had contact with him to be questioned to establish a detailed record of his whereabouts and welfare.

The Bar also wants all investigation papers and logbooks seized to avoid allegations of tampering.

MI
18/07/09

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