A total of 21 deaths in police custody were reported by the Criminal Investigation Unit on Deaths in Custody (USJKT) this year, according to a statement published by the human rights watchdog Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).
4 individuals also reportedly were killed in 10 incidents of police officers using their firearms while on duty, according to its Human Rights Overview Report on Malaysia 2022.
As per its report, “Custodial deaths in Malaysia remain prevalent in 2022 and details concerning them are frequently inadequate.”
The group also emphasised how the lack of information about the procedure and conclusion of each death in custody has hampered efforts by civil society to support the families’ pleas for an inquest or legal representation.
“It is nearly impossible for civil society to find and identify the victims’ relatives when the victim’s identity is not made public,” said Suaram.
In addition, just one of the 19 cases that USJKT looked into resulted in the conviction of two police officers and two inmates for wilfully inflicting harm.
It also stated that only one of the other 17 cases – of which the public had gotten little information – had been forwarded to the coroner, with the rest are still pending an inquiry.
Earlier in the July 2022 Parliament session, USJKT, a unit established under the Home Ministry to investigate custodial deaths in response to public outcry, disclosed that 15 deaths were related to Covid-19 and other illnesses, while the cause of five other remaining passings is still being investigated.
Suaram reported a total of 10 incidences of police shootings this year, involving 23 nameless individuals and leaving four persons dead.
Furthermore, based on information provided by the Home Ministry, the organisation discovered 693 jail deaths between January 2021 and July 2022, including 154 in Sabah’s immigration detention facilities.
According to the report, it is difficult to determine whether detainees suffered physical harm while they were being held under remand or during investigations because they are kept in custody until their court appearances and threatened with further danger if they reported what had transpired.