Cases of death in custody can be prevented if responsible authorities provide adequate care and treatment to prisoners, says a human rights lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR: Custodial deaths due to health complications can be prevented with better care and treatment, said prominent human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen.

Speaking to Berita Daily, Eric who has been handling countless of death in custody cases was responding to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who divulged that deaths in prison cases since 2010 until February this year were 1,654.

“The problem  (custodial death due to health reason) can surely be prevented if the inmates were given better care and treatment from the responsible authorities.

“Just because they are guilty of committing a crime does not mean that they are not entitled for a better health care. In many cases, inmates with serious medical condition are not given a proper care and that leads to death.

“In the recent case of M Thanaseelan who was found dead in his cell at the Bukit Sentosa lockup in Hulu Selangor the postmortem revealed that he died from blood poisoning due to a perforated ulcer. His death can surely be prevented if he was given proper medical care.

“If their food lack of nutrition then give them better food, if they need medical attention then they should be given better medical treatment,” he said.

At the parliament yesterday, Zahid also gave assurance that the police will not compromise or protect any police or enforcement officers who are suspected of violence resulting in injuries or death in custody.

Meanwhile, former Bar Council president, Khutubul Zaman Bukhari said that the government must implement  the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct  Commission (IPCMC) in order to prevent more cases of death in custody.

“There is no other way to lower the number of death in police custody unless the government implement IPCMC.”

“As a member of the Royal Commission of Police Reform, we have recommended several recommendation to the government. The implementation of IPCMC, bring the responsible person in charge to court immediately and to hold an inquest independently were among the  few suggestion we made.

“You need IPCMC because you can’t have an officer investigating another officer, you need an independent inquiry that is why you need IPCMC and that is the only way to reduce the number of death in custody,” he said when contacted.

Asked if he was shocked to learn the high figure of deaths in custody, Khutubul said that he was not at all surprised adding that the number will surely surge in the upcoming future.

“No I am not surprised at all. In fact, the number will increase if you do not implement IPCMC,” he added.