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Urgent reform needed to improve inhumane lock up conditions

Graphic: SUHAKAM Chairperson speaks to journalists

SUHAKAM has described the Ayer Molek Police lock up conditions as deplorable and hazardous to the health and well-being of detainees.


The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has described the Ayer Molek Police lock up conditions as deplorable and hazardous to the health and wellbeing of its occupants.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) visited the Ayer Molek Police Lock Up in Johor Bahru on 31 July 2017, pursuant to its mandate, for an independent and objective scrutiny of the conditions and human rights situation of the lock up, particularly on several critical issues such as health care practices.

The Ayer Molek Police Lock Up is a former prison that was converted into a temporary police lock up on 8 January 2009. It has a maximum capacity of 180 detainees. SUHAKAM visited all cells and observed that the conditions were extremely poor, with decaying flooring and dilapidation in most cells.

While detainees were not necessarily subjected to overcrowding, the cells were small, without adequate lighting and ventilation or bedding. It is SUHAKAM's observation that the detainees were held in conditions hazardous to their health and wellbeing.

SUHAKAM is extremely concerned that drinking water was only provided three times a day and that the daily food budget for detainees is RM 8 for three meals per detainee.

SUHAKAM stresses that there is an urgent need to undertake a review of the budget allocation for food and potable drinking water for detainees throughout the country, as we believe that similar circumstances exist in other lock ups nationwide.

SUHAKAM is also troubled with the absence of a custodial medical team and medical officer. Overcrowding, inadequate access to healthcare services, poor nutrition, hygiene and sanitation are not only violations of human rights, but these conditions increase the risk of the spread diseases such as tuberculosis within the lock up.

SUHAKAM empathizes with lock up officers who have to purchase face masks and gloves on their own to protect themselves against tuberculosis and other transmission of diseases.

SUHAKAM observes that the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) are not being fully complied with and is of the view that the conditions are so poor that they amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

If acceptable standards in detention cannot be maintained, the Ayer Molek and other lock ups in similar conditions must be closed.

The full statement is available on SUHAKAM's website

Date: 16 August 2017

Source: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia


Image credits

  1. SUHAKAM Chairperson speaks to journalists - APF/James Iliffe