• EDICT Malaysia

The police don’t know who died, but are sure there’s no wrongdoing

We note with concern a report in FMT today, 18 June 2020 (link) that according to Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim the person whom he earlier said is Dhan Bahadur, a Nepali national, is now a person whose identity is unknown.

“Dhan Bahadur” allegedly died in custody in Jinjang lockup on 31 May, 4 days after he was arrested on 27 May.

Mazlan has now revealed that “Dhan Bahadur” was arrested “together with his roommates” and that they all called him by the same name.

EDICT has learned that “Dhan” was employed by a security agency, and worked as a security guard at a condominium in KL. Have any of the employers of “Dhan” been questioned or detained?

We are baffled that the police have been reported to be asking “those with information” to contact them.

What information are the police seeking? What case are they investigating? Why didn’t they contact the Nepal embassy for verification the moment they arrested Dhan? Why have they not circulated his photo to ask for help in identification? (“Dhan Bahadur” is a common name in Nepal.)

We remind the police that on average 4 persons die in their lockups every three months. Numerous judges have determined that the cause of the deaths is acts and omissions by the police.

There have also been many cases of police using excessive force on suspects – for instance Syed Azlan who died in 2014 after sustaining 61 injuries in less than 4 hours after he was arrested. (As decided by the Johor High Court in December 2019).

EDICT calls upon the police to treat every death in custody as an avoidable death, and to consider every possible act or omission on the part of the police which may have caused the death of “Dhan.”

EDICT notes the irony: Mazlan, whose officers could not even correctly identify the person whom they locked up and then “found dead,” so quickly ruled out “wrongdoing” as a possible cause of death (link).

EDICT further notes that according to Mazlan, the police asked the immigration department to verify “Dhan’s” records (and presumably fingerprints) but to-date have not received a response. It is shocking that in the COVID-19 concern over foreigners, against a background of information technology, the immigration department is so unresponsive.

EDICT also calls upon the Embassy of the Kingdom of Nepal to lodge a police report about the wrongful identification. Without such a report, we cannot be sure the police will launch a formal investigation of the misidentification and treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

The culture of treating lives like inanimate objects must end.

EDICT 19 June 2020

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