KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) will set up a special unit to investigate cases of death involving detainees, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
He said it would be known as the Criminal Investigation Unit on Deaths in Custody and will be staffed by 12 police personnel and a civilian staff member.
“This unit will begin operation on Jan 1 next year, headed by a police superintendent. Beginning this date, all deaths involving detainees will be handled by this unit,” he told a news conference after the launching ceremony for the Home Minister 100 Days Keluarga Malaysia Aspiration at the Kuala Lumpur Police Training Centre here today.
The unit, which will come under PDRM’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department, would focus on the aspect of criminal liability, duty of care and compliance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), he said.
Hamzah believed that the setting up of this unit would improve the image and integrity of the police force.
Hamzah denied that there were racial elements in custodial deaths, saying that from 2015 until now 82 deaths in lock-ups have been reported, with the victims comprising 42 Malays, 13 Chinese, 15 Indians and 12 foreigners.
He said the Home Ministry was holding discussions with the Finance Ministry to get allocations so that people under arrest could be sent to private clinics for preliminary health checks before being taken to lock-ups.
“Currently they can be examined only by medical officers from the Health Ministry and this causes delays because of the high number of detainees,”he said.
Earlier at the launch, Hamzah said the pioneer project of allowing General Operations Force (GOP) security control posts in Sabah and Sarawak to function as police stations would be extended nationwide within six months.
He said nine security control posts in Sabah and two in Sarawak are now involved in the project.
“These 11 control posts can receive police reports as well as reports on deaths and births to make it easier for people living in the interior, who previously had to travel up to five hours to get to the nearest police station to lodge reports,” he added.