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Police can kill in defence

PETALING JAYA, 26 May 2010: Police officers are entitled to kill or injure innocent persons as long as they genuinely believe lives are in danger, said the Home Ministry.

Click thumbnail to read ministry’s letter
In a letter to The Nut Graph dated 17 May 2010, the ministry said: “Although police officers’ actions may result in death or injury to innocent persons or are not fully sanctioned under the law, they would still be entitled to act. This is on the condition that their intentions are sincere and they genuinely believe that their lives or the lives of those they are protecting are in danger.”

The letter was signed by Habsah Md Sidek from the ministry’s public security and order division on behalf of the ministry secretary-general.

The ministry added that police officers were fully trained and exposed in the use of, and circumstances in which, they could discharge their firearms. This included the aspect of self-defence.

Written guidelines

While the ministry’s response provided more information than its previous communication with The Nut Graph, the response however made no mention of the Inspector-General Standing Orders (IGSO) on the use of firearms. Instead it only referred to provisions under the Penal Code.

Unlike the Penal Code, however, which applies generally to anyone acting in self-defence, the IGSO applies specifically to the police. Information about IGSO, however, has not been forthcoming.

IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan
(© Rizuan | Wiki Commons)
The ministry’s 17 May letter was its second response to The Nut Graph‘s letter dated 3 Mar 2010, which requested for a copy of the written guidelines on the use of firearms by police. The ministry had earlier responded in a letter dated 30 March 2010 which merely referred The Nut Graph to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

The ministry’s most recent letter actually sets out some guidelines on when police may act in self-defence. “Police officers have the right to defend themselves to the extent of causing the death of an assailant as set out in the Penal Code (Act 574),” the letter stated.

It went on to cite examples of circumstances in which a police officer may kill in self-defence such as:-

 a  If a person is attacked in circumstances where there is reasonable apprehension that death or grievous hurt would occur as a result of the assault;

 b  To save a woman from an assault where the attacker intends to rape; and

 c  To save someone from an assault where kidnapping or abduction is intended.

Restricted document

The Nut Graph was informed in March by Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah that the police shooting guidelines were part of an internal document, “not meant to be circulated in public”.

This was after Norizan Salleh‘s case was highlighted by the media. Norizan was shot at and allegedly assaulted by police, and survived.

Click thumbnail to read The Nut Graph‘s letter
Following the public outcry over the fatal police shooting of teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah, however, IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan reportedly said he had no reservations making the IGSO public. He added, however, that it was up to the special panel monitoring the investigations into Aminulrasyid’s case to decide whether to release them.   

The Nut Graph wrote to the IGP on 28 Apr 2010 requesting for a copy of the written guidelines on police use of firearms. No reply has been forthcoming to date. favicon

See also:

Suhakam denied shooting guidelines
No charges in police shooting 
Are the police shooting to kill?

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12 Responses to “Police can kill in defence”

  1. nordin says:

    The argument that the police are entitled to kill or injure innocent person as long as they genuinely believes that lives are in danger is pure rubbish. How can you believe that they are entitle to kill INNOCENT persons?

  2. mycuntree says:

    How presumptuous and contemptuous of the PDRM! We already know that the police can shoot in self defense. The question is “Were all those who were shot to death by the police a threat to the lives of the police involved during the incident?”

  3. Tambuakar says:

    In Aminulrasyid’s case, how did the police knew that there was a parang in the car when they chased [him]? Did they have the scanning machine fixed into their car where they can monitor what was in the victim’s car? Most probably the parang was planted by the policemen to avoid people’s anger. They used to do that to get scott-free! […]

  4. Peter says:

    I disagree with the intepretation as outlined in the 1st paragraph of the article, ie “Police officers are entitled to kill or injure innocent persons as long as they genuinely believe lives are in danger, said the Home Ministry.”

    My intepretation of the PDRM response is that it only states that police are entitled to “act” (presumably meaning discharging firearms) but to equate it to mean that they are entitled to kill innocent persons is a bit of a stretch.

    What I think they meant was that during the “act”, there may be collateral damage. Whatever it is, the bottom line is that the police are entitled to “act” in self-defence.

  5. jp says:

    The City of London Police – Firearms Discharge Policy

    It is in the interest of the public, the Police Service, and everyone involved in an incident where firearms have been discharged by police officers, that subsequent procedures should be open, transparent and that the integrity of all action is maintained. The purpose of the investigation is to establish a true and factual account of the incident.

    An incident where weapons have been discharged by police officers will be the subject of a thorough investigation. The scope of the investigation is likely to be wide-ranging. It will not only include the circumstances of any injury to, or death of any person who may have been shot, but also the circumstances leading up to a shooting and all the surrounding issues such as the management of the incident.

  6. Anonymous Coward says:

    No one is questioning whether the police are allowed to act in self-defense. We are questioning the police’s attitude towards having to *justify* their actions. No one should be above the law, especially not those who are supposed to be enforcing it.

  7. pang says:

    The really problematic part of the statement are the words “sincere” and “genuinely believe”. How does one determine the police officer’s sincerity and genuineness of belief? Is there a scale by which if it can be found he was only less than 50% sincere, then he would have been culpable of homicide?

    And honestly, who cares about one’s intentions? If the court of law were to be judging our intentions, we are all screwed!

    In the drafting of a document that is meant to differentiate between legal and illegal responses of police self-defense, such words are not only useless, but possibly designed to allow arbitrariness.

    I tender that there should ever only be one condition:

    “This is on the condition that there should be sufficient evidence to justify that their lives or the lives of those they are protecting are in danger.”

  8. ekompute says:

    Police officers are entitled to kill or injure innocent persons as long as they genuinely believe lives are in danger, [is what] the Home Ministry is saying.

    Our police has shown that its ability to use discretion is indeed very eerie. It leaves me with the impression that their ability to do so is no better than that of a mad man who has gone beserk.

  9. mohd arshad raji says:

    Why don’t the police list down all those who have died in their custody, and those who were shot dead outside their custody, to determine whether the killing was an act of self defense by the police, or otherwise. I think the obvious answer is that most of the killings were unjustified and certainly not done in self defense.

  10. I Hate Police says:

    If police can kill an innocent man and say it was done in self defense, can an innocent man kill a police and also claim that he did it on self defense?

  11. Main says:

    This is one way for us [the public] to understand the function of police personnel and by this we will be able to judge what they have done [from our own perspective]. The hope is that [there will be] more streamlined actions from the police and thus less complaints.

  12. pisang mas says:

    “Police can kill in defence.” I read the title and had a good laugh. Anyone can kill in self-defence. This is allowed by the law. What kind of reply is the Police Inspector General giving. […]

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