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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      


Torture and abuse in police custody remain problems, and prisons are often overcrowded and unsafe. A number of criminal offenses can be punished with caning, including immigration violations.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Malaysia


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Malaysia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Malaysia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 July 2021]


No law specifically prohibits torture; however, laws that prohibit “committing grievous hurt” encompass torture. More than 60 offenses are subject to caning, sometimes in conjunction with imprisonment, and judges routinely mandated caning as punishment for crimes, including kidnapping, rape, and robbery, and nonviolent offenses, such as narcotics possession, criminal breach of trust, migrant smuggling, immigration offenses, and others.


Physical Conditions: Overcrowding in prisons and immigration detention centers, particularly in facilities near major cities, remained a serious problem. According to the Home Ministry, 20 of the country’s 37 prisons were overcrowded. In Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Kelantan, prisons were overcrowded by 45 to 50 percent. According to World Prison Brief, as of December 2019 the country had 75,000 inmates in 52 prisons designed to hold only 52,000.


Arbitrary Arrest: Authorities sometimes used their powers to intimidate and punish opponents of the government. Activists and government critics were often subjected to late-night arrests, long hours of questioning, and lengthy remand periods, even if they were not ultimately charged with an offense.

Pretrial Detention: The International Center for Prison Studies reported that pretrial detainees comprised approximately 27 percent of the prison population in 2018. Crowded and understaffed courts often resulted in lengthy pretrial detention, sometimes lasting several years.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Torture and abuse in police custody remain problems, and prisons are often overcrowded and unsafe. A number of criminal offenses can be punished with caning, including immigration violations.

Take over latest ‘torture’ complaint, Bukit Aman told

Minderjeet Kaur, FMT News, Kuala Lumpur, 19 May 2019 [accessed 19 May 2019]

Visvanathan alleged that on the same day, the police assaulted his client by first handcuffing him to the back, before beating him on the neck area.

He said the police officers also kicked, punched and stripped his client naked.

“They smeared pounded chilli all over his body, especially his private parts,” he was quoted as saying.

Visvanathan alleged that Mahedran was also tasered and laid on ice cubes naked.

He said the torture went on for 13 hours daily while Mahedran was under police remand.

According to MalayMail Online, he also alleged that the officers threatened Mahedran that they would target his mother and “would not hesitate” to rape his sister.

Probe 'fatal torture' in Juru camp claim, authorities told

Malaysiakini, 17 August 2016

[accessed 17 August 2016]

The Malaysian authorities must immediately investigate claims that detainees were tortured to death at the Juru immigration detention centre, Amnesty International Malaysia said.

This is after a detainee who was detained there told The Cambodia Daily they saw other detainees beaten to death in the camp in Penang.

"These are serious allegations and the authorities must commence investigations urgently, especially when this is not the first time allegations of torture and deaths in detention have been made,” AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

At least 13 detainees detail abuse and torture

Amnesty International AI, 16 March 2016 - Index number: ASA 28/3642/2016

[accessed 7 January 2019]

At least 13 detainees who were arrested for suspected security offences under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), have reported torture and other ill-treatment by the authorities in various prisons across Malaysia. They remain at serious risk.

In January 2016, the human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) reported receiving letters written by seven detainees, including one woman. In the letters the detainees detailed physical and mental abuse including being beaten up and stepped on, forced to strip, crawl like a dog and forced into performing sexual acts in the presence of the authorities and their family members were sexually harassed.

In February 2016, six other men, also detained under the SOSMA, sent letters to SUARAM reporting cruel and inhumane treatment and torture during interrogations, including being held at gun point, and being drenched in cold water and left in an air-conditioned room.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


POLICE ABUSE AND IMPUNITY - New cases of police torture of suspects in custody, in some cases resulting in their deaths, and excessive use of force in apprehending suspects continued to be reported in 2014. At least 10 suspicious deaths in police custody were recorded in the first nine months of the year.

Human Rights Watch’s report No Answers, No Apology: Police Abuses and Accountability in Malaysia released in March found a pattern of police impunity and a lack of effective external oversight. Rather than following up on the findings, police officials dismissed them and would not consider the report’s substantive recommendations for improving rights performance and accountability.

Court upholds torture victim's award

M. Mageswari, The Star, Putrajaya, 30 April 2014

[accessed 1 May 2014]

The Government and police have been ordered to pay more than RM300,000 to a lorry driver who was tortured during interrogation.

Prabakar had claimed that he was beaten up and splashed with hot water by seven policemen after his arrest in Sri Hartamas in December 2008.

In the suit, Prabakar claimed that he was arrested by police at a car park in Sri Hartamas at 9.30pm on Dec 23, 2008, and was interrogated by seven policemen at the Brickfields district police station from 10pm that day until the next morning.

POLICE TORTURE & COVER-UP: 52 injury marks found on Dharmendran's body

Malaysia Chronicle, 1 June 2013

[accessed 1 June 2013]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

The full post-mortem report of N Dharmendran, who was beaten to death while in police custody, painted a horrific picture of brutality and torture in Malaysian cells.

"Dharmendran's body was found, handed over to the hospital with bleeding from staples embedded in both ears. He was beaten around the abdomen area, navel, hip bone, loins and lower areas, kidneys, under the armpits, on his feet, bottom of his soles, every inch of his body. The entire chest area was blackened from the beatings and there were severe bruises on his shoulders that indicated he was or on the floor and the beating came from above."

"The bruises were  quite big, these are not small spots, and inconsistent with what we saw on the body - huge patches of bruises, so the beatings would have to be quite heavy for the bruises to be so large."

Surendran also pointed to bruises around the wrists that indicated Dharmendran had been handcuffed and unable to defend himself.

Backsliding on Rights

Human Rights Watch, Bangkok, 1 February 2013

[accessed 5 February 2013]

Malaysian police appear to routinely violate the rights of persons in custody, Human Rights Watch said. Police personnel have employed unnecessary or excessive force during demonstrations, while carrying out arrests, and in police lockups. Deaths in custody, routinely attributed to disease, go uninvestigated, suspects are beaten to coerce confessions, and criminal suspects die in suspicious circumstances during apprehension by police. Alleged police abuses go uninvestigated.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

ARBITRARY ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS - The government repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allowed for indefinite detention without charge or trial, and replaced it with the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Act in July. Under it, the police were allowed to detain suspects incommunicado for 48 hours, and for up to 28 days without charge or judicial review.

As of November, at least 14 detainees, all foreign nationals, were held under the ISA until their detention orders expired, despite repeal of this law.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 7 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 4   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 5 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

There is no constitutional provision specifically banning torture, and police have been known to torture prisoners and use excessive force or inhumane tactics in conducting searches. Police reform has been inhibited by resistance at the highest levels of the police force and, according to many, by the attorney general. In August 2007, a former chief of police and member of the 2005 commission on police reform, Hanif Omar, published a scathing statement on police practices and the government’s failure to resolve the problems as crime soared.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 5 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – No law specifically prohibits torture; however, laws that prohibit "committing grievous hurt" encompass torture. Unlike in 2004, there were no reports of torture by police. According to the government, every report of abuse of prisoners is investigated; however, the government routinely did not release information on the results of internal police investigations, and whether those responsible for abuses were punished was not always known.

In January 2004, 31 persons released from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) claimed that police subjected them to physical and mental abuse during the initial 60 days of their incarceration.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Malaysia",, [accessed <date>]