Malaysia to equip front-line officers with body-mounted cameras

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir also announced that the government is seeking to upgrade and install more closed-circuit television cameras at locations where complaints of abuse and even killings of detained suspects had been reported. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian law enforcers working on the front line such as the police and immigration officers will be equipped with body-mounted cameras in a bid to curb corruption and reinforce professionalism.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Sept 19), who also announced that the government is seeking to upgrade and install more closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) at locations including police lock-ups, where complaints of abuse and even killings of detained suspects had been reported.

"We will enforce body cameras on police, immigration and customs so that we can know what they are up to… if there is corruption or abuse... if they turn it off also, we will know," Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters after chairing an anti-corruption meeting in Putrajaya.

The implementation, Dr Mahathir said, will take place as soon as the government "has the budget".

Malaysian enforcers who deal directly with the public regularly face complaints of asking for bribes or of abusing suspects.

Said PM Mahathir: "People can complain but we need proof, so body camera can show us what happened. However, not all officers will wear it, only certain officers will have to wear them.

"We will also be installing cameras in five police lock-up centres."

There were 257 deaths of suspects while in police lock-up between 2002 and 2016, according to official statistics provided by the Home Ministry in a parliamentary reply on March 28, 2017.

Dr Mahathir's announcement came as Malaysia under the Pakatan Harapan government is looking to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), after years of delay under the previous administration.

The proposed IPCMC was among recommendations issued by a Royal Commission of Inquiry formed in February 2004, following public uproar over the rising number of deaths in police detention and claims of police brutality.

Malaysia's plan to introduce body-mounted cameras followed a similar practice for front-line offcers in places like Singapore, the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

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