Another unfortunate custodial death took place this year in Kuantan, Pahang on Saturday, April 9.
The deceased is a 42-year-old man who was detained in the Indera Mahkota lock-up upon facing charges under Section 12 (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
Azri Ahmad, Director of the Integrity and Standards Compliance Department (JIPS), explained that the detainee was held in custody on March 21, and was originally sentenced to eight months in jail. Azri also stated that he was due to attend court this week for a re-mention of the case.
The official report says that the man had been found unconscious during the food distribution process, before having the chance to break his fast.
He was provided tuberculosis medication approximately an hour prior to this, at 4.40pm. Kuantan Hospital pronounced him dead at 6.35pm that same evening.
In response to the matter, Azri confirmed that the unforeseen death will be investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Death in Detention Unit (USJKT) under JIPS Bukit Aman. Home Minister Hamzah Zanudin had announced the establishment of this panel last year.
This is the fourteenth case of a detainee’s demise under police custody reported in Malaysia this year.
According to reports, the country saw seven custodial deaths within the first two months of 2022.
Earlier this year, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said explained that from this year on, the USJKT will be appointed to investigate all cases of custodial death. Therefore, these cases will no longer be analysed by the investigating officer at the district police headquarters (IPD).
“The cases will be investigated by taking into account the criminal and disciplinary aspects,” he said at a question-answer session held at Dewan Negara last month.
The minister also claimed that a total seventeen deaths in custody were reported from January to December in 2021, most of which spanned across Selangor.
Many of these cases and similar situations have attracted public attention and concern among citizens.
According to Southeastasiaglobe.com, SUARAM reported a total of 441 deaths in custody from 2018 to 2020, with only one in four deaths in custody disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.