New IPCC Significantly Watered-Down Version of IPCMC

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The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today tabled the new Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC), a replacement to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) which was previously mooted by Pakatan Harapan.

Differences in the IPCC bill:

  • Can’t take any action against errant police officers
  • Can’t review complaints of police officers who do not comply with rules or SOPs, who do not justify their actions when justification should be provided, and who commit criminal offences
  • Police can deploy a shroud of secrecy during any investigations by the commission
  • Police can refuse to disclose “sensitive information”, which has been certified by a department head, that would be “prejudicial to national security or national interests”
  • Prevents the IPCC from obtaining documents on grounds of national security, or documents classified under the Official Secrets Act
  • Police officers can be members of the IPCC
  • Number of IPCC members reduced from 10 to seven.
  • Not empowered to cooperate with other agencies in its probes but can only “consult” other agencies

A comparison between the two bills shows that the IPCC is significantly depowered compared to the IPCMC.

One key difference is that the IPCC can’t take any action against errant police officers. Instead, action must be referred to the Police Force Commission or other relevant authorities.

The IPCC also lost the ability to review complaints of police officers who do not comply with rules or standard operating procedures, who do not justify their actions when justification should be provided, and who commit criminal offences.

However, the IPCC does expand on the IPCMC by requiring police to report to the commission any cases of sexual offences under police custody, on top of cases of injuries or death in detention.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Shroud of secrecy

The IPCC lets the police deploy a shroud of secrecy during any investigations by the commission.

This is because the new bill allows those who are testifying to the commission the right of refusal to answer any questions that would expose a police officer to a criminal charge.

Under the IPCC, the police can also refuse to disclose “sensitive information”, which has been certified by a department head, that would be “prejudicial to national security or national interests”.

Likewise, the new bill also prevents the IPCC from obtaining documents on grounds of national security, or documents classified under the Official Secrets Act.

Additionally, a clause preventing current or former police officers from being in the commission has been removed. This means police officers can be members of the IPCC.

The number of IPCC members has also been reduced from 10 to seven.

Further, while the IPCMC was empowered to cooperate with other agencies in its probes, the IPCC can only “consult” other agencies.

Human rights NGO Suaram in a statement this evening said it was “appalled” by the IPCC.

“(With the amendments) the IPCC will be worse than the existing mechanisms under the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC),” it said in a statement.

Hari Anggara

“Introducing a commission that is doomed to failure at a time when the Royal Malaysia Police is struggling with allegations of serious misconduct that includes police brutality, custodial death, and enforced disappearance will only further tarnish the reputation of the police force and affirm public mistrust of the police force.

The NGO pointed out that an accountable and professional police force would not fear any scrutiny by an independent commission.

This is because public scrutiny was said to provide the police with an opportunity to address public concerns and prove the police are not involved in any misconduct and are held accountable for any misconduct committed. – Malaysiakini