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Malaysia: Protect Selvach Santhiran

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The Arrest of Mr. Selvach Santhiran, a Witness to Police Brutality in Malaysia

29 October 2010

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) received information from Malaysia about the arrest of Mr. Selvach Santhiran, a witness to the torture and subsequent death of a victim while in the custody of Malaysian police authorities.

Mr. Selvach Santhiran was arrested last 25 October 2010 (Monday) at around 10:00 p.m., in his home, in front of his wife and children. During his arrest, Mr. Selvach Santhiran was beaten up by the officers present. He was then taken to the Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent Office but was subsequently moved to an unknown location. As of this writing, the whereabout Mr. Selvach Santhiran are still unknown. His family have not been allowed to see Mr. Selvach Santhiran.  No reason was given for his arrest. It is now feared that Mr. Selvach Santhiran will be subjected to torture while under police custody.

Mr. Selvach Santhiran is being detained under Malaysia’s draconian detention laws which allow him to be detained without trial for up to 60 days, without recourse to the judiciary and further detained for two (2) years by the order of the Home Minister.

Last 16 July 2009, Mr. Selvach Santhiran was detained along with Mr Gunasegaran at the Sentul District Police Headquarter. The latter was then detained under drug charges. On 16 July 2009, Mr. Gunasegaran was reported dead by police authorities, who claimed his death was caused by a drug overdose.

On 14 July 2010, a year after the death of Mr. Gunasegaran, Mr. Selvach Santhiran testified in the coroner’s court to determine the cause of death of the former. Mr. Selvach Santhiran stated that he saw Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal assault Mr. Gunasegaran while the latter was in custody. He also claimed that Mr. Gunasegaran’s thumbprints were taken when he was already unconscious.

Mr. Selvach Santhiran, as witness of human rights abuse, should be protected as a human rights defender. He had the right to speak about the abuse he witnessed, as clearly stated under Article 9, par. 3(a) of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which says that everyone has the right “to complain about x x x the actions of individual officials x x x with regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities or any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State.”

Moreover, Article 12, par. 2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders explicitly says that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration”.   Hence, the government of Malaysia has the corresponding obligation to take all necessary measures to protect defenders like Mr. Selvach Santhiran against any retaliation as a consequence of his legitimately acting as witness to a human rights violation committed by a police officer.

Suggested Actions:

Please write letters to the authorities listed below to show your deep concern over this case and request an immediate investigation into the allegations of the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Selvach Santhiran.

Please also write letters to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to use its power to inspect places of detention to ascertain the safety and well-being of Mr. Selvach Santhiran.

Please send your letters to:

1.       Ibu Pejabat Polis Kontinjen Kuala Lumpur
Polis Diraja Malaysia
Jalan Hang Tuah
51100 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone        : +603 21460522
Fax.                 : +603 20726786

2.      Tan Sri Hasmy Agam
Chairperson The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Level 29, Menara Tun Razak
Jalan Raja Laut
50350 Kuala Lumpur.
Telephone : +603-26125600
Fax: +603-26125620
E-mail: [email protected]

3.      Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613

4.       Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building ,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Tel : +603-8888 8000
Fax : +603-8888 3444
E-Mail: [email protected]