Malaysia

Stop police abuse of chain remands, lawyer urges IGP

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Bar Council task force chairman M Ramachelvam says the Inspector-General of Police, Abdul Hamid Bador, should take action.

PETALING JAYA: The Inspector-General of Police should take action to stop the police practice of placing criminal suspects under a series of remand orders, says the head of a Bar Council task force.

M Ramachelvam said that even though the practice was permissible by law, chain remands were an abuse of powers granted to the police.

He called for an investigation by the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission into the use of chain remand orders against 18-year-old Mitheswaran Kumar, who was detained several times from Feb 26 to March 11 for police investigations into multiple offences, including burglary and drugs.

Ramachelvam said the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) allows a maximum remand of only 7 days for offences punishable with less than 14 years imprisonment, and a maximum of 14 days for offences punishable for more than 14 years.

Another Bar Council member, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, saying the practice was an “abhorrent” abuse of the CPC, urged courts and lawyers to be more vigilant when granting police remand requests.

The police should either charge the suspects or release them when the remand period ends, he said.

He said chain remands occur when police rearrest a person using the pretext of another police report having been made at a different police district, subsequently producing the suspect for remand the next day.

The practice was typically done when police needed to gather more evidence after the first remand order expired, he said.

Rafique, who is on the Bar’s criminal law committee, suggested that the police place suspects on a bond. “So instead of locking them up, investigate and call them in from time to time,” he said.

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He said that when remand proceedings are held, lawyers must raise the issue of previous arrests in court so judges could be made aware of any potential abuses of power.

Ramachelvam, who heads a task force on the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, reiterated the Bar Council’s call for the commission to be established urgently, with disciplinary and investigation powers, to ensure that there is no abuse of police powers and to ensure that the police are held accountable for their actions.

Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of Suaram, the human rights group, said abuses of the remand system were difficult to record.

“These are common practices in the current police system, which lacked checks and balances,” he told FMT.

He said Suaram receives around 10 complaints about chain remands a year, usually involving suspects in drug or theft cases.

Based on his observations, he said most suspects did not have prior criminal records.

“These chain remands will be used to collect criminal records (through different police reports made at different police stations) before the police would eventually use the Prevention of Crimes Act to put them under preventive order,” he said.

He said the POCA is only supposed to be used against hardcore criminals.

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