AMNESTY International Malaysia and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) welcome the initiative of the government in passing of the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) bill in Parliament on 30 June. We are encouraged by the government’s willingness to act on the concerns raised by civil society and the general public on the diminishing public confidence in our law enforcement agencies.
We are nonetheless concerned that the EAIC bill as it stands falls short of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police in several ways. The proposed structure of referrals of investigations to the Attorney General for prosecution raises the possibility of selective prosecution in certain high-profile cases.
Additionally, the wide scope of this commission, which covers 21 public agencies, could stretch the resources and functional capacity of the commission. While it is admirable that the bill extends its coverage to other agencies, we nonetheless feel that the initial concerns of the public towards the police requires the attention and resources of a specific agency.
We firmly believe that the need for a specific and specialised independent oversight mechanism is crucial for the improvement and human rights compliance of the police service, as the force is the largest enforcement unit with very wide powers and comes in greatest contact with the public on a daily basis.
We call for the implementation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to address the critical gaps in the current body.
We are also of the opinion that the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz is misleading when he stated on 30 June that the IPCMC would be unconstitutional according to Article 140 and 145 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 140 clearly stipulates the scope of the Police Force Commission as to administration of the police force with an addition of disciplinary control over them. It is, however, to be noted that Article 145 does not defeat any specific accountability mechanism as the Article also states that Parliament may pass law for the exercise of disciplinary control of the police force. The section clearly states that any new and specific law on the disciplinary control of the police cannot be made invalid on grounds of inconsistency as per Article 140, hence allowing for a specific law to make the police force accountable.
On Article 145, we are of the opinion that there is danger to vest absolute powers in one person. Hence, Article 145(3) can be amended to make it clear that it does not confer upon the Attorney General as a single person with sole and exclusive power to institute and conduct prosecutions. We also refer to the Securities Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for independent prosecution power, separate of the Attorney General as a single decision-making person.
We will continue to monitor the function and effectiveness of the EAIC, provide crucial interventions, and continue to address our concerns, with the hope of a more credible and effective police force in Malaysia.
Amnesty International Malaysia