Death in custody cases go to AGC first, Wan Junaidi says

Desmond Davidson

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar says when the coroner’s court system was established several years ago, the support infrastructure was not beefed up to cope with the paperwork, resulting in a backlog. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 11, 2022.

ALL deaths in custody must be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) first, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said.

Responding to Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances group (CAGED) question why the police are referring deaths in police custody to the AGC and not the Coroner’s Court for directions, the minister said: “the AGC is the ultimate legality of things in Malaysia”.

“It’s the AGC that will decide whether an inquest is necessary. It will normally direct the inquest to be conducted by the Coroner’s Court.”

Yesterday, CAGED queried the procedure.

“Are the police unaware that coroners are bound by law and the Chief Justice’s directives to conduct inquests?”

The group added that the AGC could have “over the years been contravening section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code”.

However, Wan Junaidi said the “code must be read as a whole, not in isolation”.

The Santubong MP also said it took long for police to prepare their file reports on deaths in custody, because post-mortem and medical reports referred to the Chemistry Department were often held up in the system.

Wan Junaidi, who was the deputy home minister from May 2013 to July 2015, and had chaired the committee tasked with looking into forming the coroner’s court, said when the then law minister made the decision to form the court, she did not take into account revamping the “supporting infrastructure”.

“The Chemistry Department was not revamped.”

He said the extra manpower needed to speed up the investigations was never assigned.

That, he said, was why the post-mortem and medical reports on deaths in custody from the Chemistry Department takes three to four months to complete.

“The department is bogged down with paperwork.”

He said the additional workload without the additional manpower, it was no wonder why the death reports are slow.

“It’s the failure of the system,” Wan Junaidi added. – February 11, 2022.

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