(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The European Union yesterday is the latest international body to express its "deep concern" over the deterioration of human rights situation in Malaysia, particularly over reports of the physical abuse of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody under the Internal Security Act.
A statement by the 15 European Union countries in Brussels yesterday said "The E.U. urges the Malaysian authorities to ensure that similar incidents will not occur again in the future and that Anwar Ibrahim be assured correct treatment while in custody" and "hopes that appropriate action will be taken against any individuals, including officials, found responsible for such mistreatment."
Many leading world figures have expressed their concern over the police brutality against Anwar while in police custody, including United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Philippine President Joseph Estrada, World Bank President James Wolfensohn and US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
The Cabinet next Wednesday should address the adverse international image of Malaysia and take emergency measures to restore the nationís international standing by the immediate release of Anwar and all other detainees under the Internal Security Act and the commissioning of a completely independent inquiry into Anwarís allegations of police brutality against him on the first night of his arrest on Sept. 20.
There can be no justification for the continued detention of Anwar under the ISA as he has been charged in court, as this is not only double jeopardy but smacks of political persecution and victimisation.
The Police must decide whether it is detaining Anwar under the ISA for having incited riots or that he would incite riots, and they owe Malaysians and the world a full explanation why the ordinary laws of the land are incapable of dealing with both situations!
I have publicly stated that during my two periods of detention under the Internal Security Act, I had not been subject to any police brutality. However, it is an open secret that physical violence and torture had been meted out to detainees under the Internal Security Act during the first 60 days of interrogative detention. In fact, some ISA detainees had made affidavits of their ordeal of physical assaults and torture during the first 60 days of ISA detention when they subsequently filed habeas corpus applications challenging the legality of their ISA detention - and these are public documents.
As the issue of police brutality against detainees has become a public issue, there should be a full and separate public inquiry into the whole question of police violence against detainees, whether under the ISA or other laws of the land to ensure that the custodians of law and order do not themselves violate the law by taking the law into their own hands against defenceless detainees under their custody.