File photo of Malaysian riot police fire tear gas during a protest in Kuala Lumpur on February 16, 2008. (Reuters: Zainal Abd Halim )

KUALA LUMPUR – There has been a rise in serious and repeated abuse of power by Malaysian police and other law enforcement agencies last year, according to Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) civil and political rights report 2009.

The report also highlighted the government’s resistance towards reform and greater compliance with human rights standards with nine people being detained under the Internal Security Act and more than 1,000 still being held under the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2009.

It noted the heightened intolerance towards dissent as another key trend in human rights last year.The report said deaths in police custody continued to occur with seven cases recorded last year. There were also 88 deaths caused by police shootings in 2009, which the police justified as self-defence.

Suaram documentation and monitoring coordinator John Liu said the ‘high number of fatal shootings last year is alarming, when compared with only 13 in 2007.’ ‘The deaths caused by police shootings are worrying. Eighty-eight people were shot dead by police in 2009 with not a single police officer known to be held accountable for any of those deaths,’ he said during the launch of the report here.

The report said there were numerous complaints of violent police reactions to peaceful assemblies, arbitrary detention of protestors, as well as threats and harassment against human rights defenders.

The report also mentioned Teoh Beng Hock’s death which occurred in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the recent case of alleged torture of former Royal Malaysian Air Force officer N. Tharmendran by military intelligence officers in connection with the theft of two jet engines.

It said abuse by police and other law enforcement agencies continued to occur mainly due to the government’s failure to implement any significant reform of the police force and other law enforcement agencies — THESTAR / ANN