OMCT calls for a prompt investigation into police actions in dispersing demonstrators

Geneva, 13 November 2007 – The International Secretariat of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) condemns the alleged excessive and unnecessary use of force by police when dispersing a peaceful demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on 10 November 2007.

According to the information received from SUARAM, a member organisation of OMCT SOS-Torture network, teargas and chemical-laced water were used against the demonstrators. The tear gas suffocated many, causing teary eyes, and the acid-laced water drenched many causing painful burning skin. While reported 34 arrested individuals were released on the same day, SUARAM reported 6 individuals who were beaten by the police and sustained severe injuries.
The rally, calling for free and fair elections in Malaysia, was organised by BERSIH, a coalition of over 70 civil society groups and political parties, including SUARAM.
OMCT calls for a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into these events to examine whether the use of force by police was consistent with national law and international standards including the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, and the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and then identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law.
OMCT wishes to recall that under international standards, force by law enforcement officials may be used only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.
Contact:  OMCT +41 22 809 49 39