Brunei Law Society calls for independent inquiry into deaths of suspects held in custody

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THE president of the Brunei Law Society has called for an independent inquiry into the deaths of two suspects held in police custody last year.

In his speech delivered at the opening of the legal year 2016, Hj Mohd Rozaiman DSLJ Abd Rahman said the inquiry into the deaths should be carried out by an independent body free from any conflicts of interest to eliminate any accusations of bias that might be levelled against it.

“Last year, it was with great sadness to hear at least two cases where persons held in custody of the Royal Brunei Police Force had allegedly committed suicide while being detained or remanded in police cells,” he said.

“We opine that an independent inquiry must be conducted to determine any failure in procedures and also determine the actual cause of death as it would not be in the interest of justice nor the victims if justice could not be served,” he continued.

It was previously reported that two local men had died in police custody due to “unnatural causes” in two separate incidents in June and October 2015.

The defendants, Muhammad Hakimi Rizal Abdullah @ Eyan Anak Beritin and Remia Hj Abd Raub, had been remanded at police stations while being investigated for charges of murder and arson respectively at the time.

Details of internal investigations conducted into the incident were not revealed to the public.

Meanwhile, Mohd Rozaiman also suggested special provisions allowing suspected drug offenders to be detained without charge far longer than in cases of other offences to be repealed.

Currently, enforcement officers can arrest individuals suspected of committing an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act without a warrant.

The special provisions under Section 22 of the Misuse of Drugs Act allows for the extra length of detention of accused persons of up to two weeks if investigations into the case cannot be completed within 24 hours while accused persons in offences not related to drugs can only be detained without charge for 48 hours.

“I honestly think that it should be repealed so that we can have a fair and uniform period when accused persons can be detained,” he said.

“Let us have consistency in the law and make it the same for all accused persons, regardless of the type of offence,” he added.

The Brunei Times