Investigate enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh

Press release

(Kuala Lumpur, Paris) FIDH, its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), and the civil society coalition Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) welcome Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM)’s findings from its public inquiry into the abductions of activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh and renew their call on the Malaysian government to conduct a swift, independent, and impartial investigation into their enforced disappearance.

On 3 April 2019, SUHAKAM concluded that the abductions of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh were both cases of enforced disappearances carried out by state agents. In both instances, the inquiry panel’s chairman, Mah Weng Kwai, said there was “direct and circumstantial evidence” that proved that both men were abducted by state agents, namely the Special Branch police.

“The SUHAKAM’s findings mark a crucial step towards ensuring that the truth about the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh is revealed and the perpetrators are punished. It must be noted that the police were less than cooperative with the SUHAKAM’s inquiry and did not attend the announcement of its findings. The Mahathir government should make a complete break with the previous administration and immediately end impunity for this heinous crime.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

SUHAKAM’s findings are consistent with FIDH’s documentation that alleged state actors were responsible for the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh. On 15 May 2017, FIDH submitted separate communications to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) on the two cases. SUHAKAM began public hearings on the two cases on 19 October 2017.

“After the SUHAKAM’s damning conclusion, the government can no longer bury its head in the sand. An independent and impartial investigation into the Special Branch’s involvement in the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh must be immediately undertaken in order to determine their fate or whereabouts.”

Sevan Doraisamy, SUARAM Executive Director and CAGED member

Under international customary law, Malaysia has the obligation to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearances, bring those responsible to justice, identify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared persons, and ensure the right to an effective remedy and reparation for their families.

Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) defines enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” Articles 3 and 12 of the ICPPED impose on state parties an obligation to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearances. The ICPPED codifies international law applicable to enforced disappearance and is universally applicable.

FIDH, SUARAM, and CAGED reiterate their call on the Malaysian government to accede to the ICPPED, incorporate its provisions into the country’s domestic legislation, and implement it in practice.

As part of Malaysia’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in February 2018, the Malaysian government “partially accepted” one recommendation that called on Malaysia to become a state party to the ICPPED. The Malaysian government said that ratification of core international human rights instruments (including the ICPPED) would be carried out “after in-depth consultation with all relevant stakeholders.”

Background information

Christian pastor and social worker Raymond Koh was abducted on the morning of 13 February 2017 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor State. The examination of CCTV footage from security cameras of houses near the place of his abduction showed a silver car, believed to be driven by Mr. Koh, being surrounded by three black SUVs. The SUVs forced Mr. Koh’s car to stop, and at least eight masked men dressed in black came out of the SUVs before a struggle ensued. Less than one minute later, video footage showed that both Mr. Koh and his car had been removed from the scene. Broken glass and Mr. Koh’s car license plate were later found at the scene.

Amri Che Mat, founder of local community NGO Perlis Hope, was abducted on the night of 24 November 2016 after being stopped by a five-vehicle convoy close to his house in Kangar, Perlis State. Mr. Amri was on his way to meet a friend in Jitra, Kedah State. According to eyewitnesses, there were roughly 15 to 20 people, some with firearms pointed at Mr. Amri’s vehicle, involved in the kidnapping. Mr. Amri was forced into one of the kidnappers’ cars and the convoy drove off. On 25 November 2016, Mr. Amri’s car was discovered in Padang Besar, Perlis State, with the windscreen and side windows smashed.

Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) - Tel: +60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)
Read more