DAP calls for Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 1,583 prison deaths in the past 15 years, focusing on the state of medical care in the prisons, and the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission to give a full rep[ort on the 150 police lockup/custody deaths from 1990 to September 2004
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Friday): In the 15 years from 1990 till September 2004, a total of 1,583 deaths occurred among prisoners in the 28 prisons in the country while there were 150 deaths among detainees under police lock-up or custody. (OKT – Orang Kena Tahan – mati dalam lokap/tahanan polis)
This is the written answer by the Minister for Internal Security, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to my parliamentary question submitted in the budget meeting of the Dewan Rakyat last year and which has just been sent to me.
My question asked the Minister “menyatakan secara terperinci jumlah kematian tahanan polis di lokap dan penjara sejak 1990 mengikut negeri, warganegara atau kaum, alasan penahanan dan sebab kematian setiap satunya, sama ada siasatan bebas dilakukan ke atas kes-kes yang berkenaan dan hasil siasatan berkenaan”.
According to Abdullah, the causes of the 1,583 deaths among the prisoner population were as follows:
Out of the total 1,583 prisoner fatalities, 1,425 were Malaysians, comprising Malays 898, Chinese 271, Indians 224 and Others 32. The balance of 158 deaths were foreigners, comprising Indonesia 62, Philippines 11, Thailand 43, India 7, Bangladesh 2, China 1 and Others 32.
The breakdown for prisoner fatalities based on offences are:
The causes of the 150 deaths among OKTs under police lockup/custody have been attributed to the following:
The ethnic, gender and offences breakdown for the police lock-up/custody deaths are:
On the 1,583 prison fatalities in the past 15 years, Abdullah’s 49-page written answer said:
“Kira-kira 95% kematian adalah berlaku di hospital luar penjara iaitu ketika benduan-banduan sedang diberikan rawatan lanjut. Manakala 3% adalah semasa dalam perjalanan ke hospital dan 2% adalah di penjara. Bagi semua kes kematian sama ada di dalam atau luar penjara telah dilaporkan kepada polis dan seterusnya dilakukan ‘coroner inquiry’. Bedah siasat juga telah dilakukan bagi memastikan punca sebenarnya kematian. Setakat ini, hanya satu kes kematian banduan di Penjara Penor, Kuantan sahaja masih di dalam perbicaraan mahkamah.”
On the 150 police lockup/custody deaths, the reply said:
“Sepanjang tahun 1990 sehingga 2004 seramai 150 orang telah mati dalam lokap/tahanan polis. Daripada jumlah tersebut terdapat 52 kes yang telah dijalankan siasatan (inkues). Berikut adalah hasil-hasil siasatan (inkues) bagi tahun 1990 sehingga 2004:-
Manakala 98 kes masih dalam siasatan.”
I find the answer, though detailed, most unsatisfactory, unacceptable and shocking, as it raises many questions about police/prison efficiency, accountability, transparency and integrity.
Let us start with some preliminary questions.
Firstly, the high prisoner fatalites rate in the 15-year period from 1990 to September-2004 which averages 105.5 prisoner deaths per year. Even more troubling, the average annual prisoner fatalities in the past three years had leapt more than 1,140% to 228.3 deaths (though for 2 years 9 months) as compared to the first three years 1990-1992, which averaged 20 deaths a year.
These shocking statistics and trend are to seen from Jadual 4 of the written answer on the annual prisoner fatalities from 1990 to September-2004, as follows:
STATISTIK KEMATIAN BANDUAN DARI TAHUN 1990 HINGGA SEPTEMBER 2004 BERDASARKAN JANTINA
Nota: L – Lelaki; P - Perempuan.
Secondly, the unacceptable reasons given for seven out of the 11 causes of death, which totals 1,014 or 64% of the 1,583 prisoner-fatalities in the 15-year period, viz: Septicaemia 391 deaths, TB 196, Pneumonia 111, Memingocuaphacities 9, Darah Tinggi 9, Sesak Nafas 27 and Lain-lain Penyakit 271.
In the first three-year period from 1990-1992, the annual average of prisoner fatalities because of septicaemia and tuberculosis were 2.3 and 2 deaths respectively, but there was a quantum jump in the annual fatalities average for the last three years, viz. 2002, 2003 and September-2004, registering 63.3 and 33.6 deaths respectively.
These shocking data of prisoner fatalities from septicaemia and tuberculosis between the start and the end of the 15-year period from 1990 to September-2004 point to a gross deterioration in the heath care conditions and standards for the prisoner population in the past 15 years, which is also an indictment on the dereliction of duty and gross irresponsibility of both the prison and health services in the country.
Furthermore, what are the details of the “Lain-Lain Penyakit” which caused 271 deaths or 17.1% of the total 1,583 prisoner-fatalities in the past 15 years, as this meaningless term should not be allowed to hide a multitude of sins!
Thirdly, out of the 150 police lockup/custody deaths, 60 were alleged to be caused by “Lain-Lain Penyakit” and 33 by “Bunuh Diri”. The former calls for further elaboration of the actual causes of death while the latter begs the question who had made this determination, as Abdullah said in his reply that 52 inquests had returned a suicide finding for 14 deaths while 98 cases of inquests are still pending. Where then do the 33 “Bunuh Diri” cases come from?
Fourthly, the quantum jump of more than 300% increase in police lockup/custody deaths in the first three years of the 15-year period when it averaged five fatalities a year between 1990-1992 as compared to 16 fatalities a year in the last three years of 2002, 2003 and till September-2004, as given in the following table:
Statistik OKT Mati Dalam Lokap/Tahanan Polis Tahun Dari 1990-2004
DAP is seriously concerned about the deplorable state of affairs in the prisons and the police lockups as highlighted by these statistics and wishes to make two urgent calls, viz:
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman