Malaysia: Authorities must immediately investigate police brutality at Bersih rally


The Malaysian government must immediately order an independent and efficient investigation into police brutality against peaceful protestors at the Bersih 3.0 march for electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, Amnesty International said.

Video footage taken at the demonstrations shows both ordinary police officers and officers from the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU))  acting in groups to brutally beat individual protestors who were effectively already in custody.  Several journalists covering the event were punched or otherwise attacked by police.

Amnesty International calls on the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to establish an independent investigation into reports of brutality by the security forces at the Bersih rally. 

The police beating of these people constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is in violation of the global ban on torture and other ill-treatment. The use of these repressive tactics also infringed the demonstrators’ right to peaceful protest.

Those suspected of engaging in or ordering unnecessary or excessive use of force against protestors and journalists, or of ill-treatment of detainees should be prosecuted – irrespective of their rank – in fair trials. Victims should be provided with reparations.

The investigation should include a thorough review of police tactics during public order policing, with a view to ensuring that they meet international standards, in particular the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.

It has been seven years since the 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry into the police recommended its reform, including the establishment of an independent commission for complaints against the police. Amnesty International calls on the Malaysian government to fully implement this reform to ensure that victims of police brutality have access to justice.

Lance Lattig

Researcher on Malaysia

Amnesty International, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW