The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) panel expressed disappointment after some evidence was withheld during its inquiry on the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth Sitepu, today.
Zulfadhly Yaacob, the third investigating officer tasked to probe Hilmy’s disappearance, said there were two items requested by Suhakam that he could not produce because of orders from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
He said the reason given was that leaking or giving the information to third parties would hinder the police investigation and efforts to trace the victims and potential suspects.
“The deputy public prosecutor (DPP) involved also said there was no proof that police had breached any human rights in their probe,” he told the inquiry.
Suhakam chief commissioner Hishamudin Yunus said the panel was unhappy with the reasoning given as the inquiry had the powers to demand the evidence to be produced as guaranteed under the Suhakam Act.
“We are an official body with powers under the Suhakam Act. We’re not an NGO, we’re not a third party. We will write to the DPP involved for him to reconsider his decision.
“In as much as police are probing under the Police Act and the DPP acting under the Criminal Procedure Code, we are also acting under the law.
“There should be cooperation and sharing of information within government departments. If need be, we can go through the documents in camera. But we need that information to complete our investigation,” he said.
Another member of the panel, Jerald Joseph, pointed out that Section 14 of the Suhakam Act clearly states that the commission had the authority to procure and examine all necessary evidence and witnesses as it deems necessary.
He said it was far too often that Suhakam was forced to remind the officers of various government agencies, including the AGC, of the commission’s function.
He also said he understood that it was not Zulfadhly’s fault that the officer could not produce the evidence, as he was under orders by the DPP.
Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, and Ruth have been missing for over three years. They were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.
The inquiry continues. – FMT