Malaysia: senior police officers discuss international policing standards
In November, Senior Malaysian police officers spent four days discussing the application of international law and standards to policing at a seminar organized by the ICRC and the Royal Malaysia Police. The seminar also provided an opportunity for officers to learn more about the ICRC’s mandate and activities.
“I was very impressed by the ICRC” was the first reaction of Superintendent Abang Ahmad bin Hj Abang Julai from the Kuching District Police Headquarters of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) when asked for his assessment of the seminar, which took place in Kuching, Sarawak. Supt Abang Ahmad was joined by counterparts from all over Sarawak at the joint ICRC/RMP seminar.
John-Erik Jensen, the ICRC’s regional delegate to the police and security forces, facilitated the event. He was pleased with the active participation and the quality of the discussions. “The seniority of the officers that attended demonstrated the RMP’s commitment to providing the best service to the public and to observing international standards,” he said.
At the start of the seminar, the phrase “easier said than done” was often heard. But as it progressed and officers took part in exercises, case studies and discussions, they were able to draw positive conclusions and identify useful ideas. Topics included arrest and detention, search and seizure, the use of force and firearms, wound ballistics and public order management.
The ICRC enjoys a constructive working relationship with the RMP and this seminar was the third of its kind in Malaysia in the last two years. Dialogue with the police and armed forces is nothing new for the ICRC, as the organization works with law enforcement agencies all over the world, promoting the humanitarian norms and standards that apply to them.
Jeremy England heads the ICRC’s regional delegation in Kuala Lumpur. “Today, law enforcement officers all over the world face alarmingly high levels of crime, violence and security threats,” he said. “Increasingly, the ICRC shares its experience and expertise in such contexts, with the aim of alleviating suffering.”
England pointed out that a police officer’s first duty is to serve and protect the public, and he was impressed by the RMP’s desire to develop its capacities and enhance its performance. He hoped that the cooperation between RMP and the ICRC would develop further as the RMP stepped up its training on national and international law.
“Even perfectly-worded legal provisions will remain ineffective unless those for whom they are intended know and apply them,” he added. “This is as true of international humanitarian and human rights law as it is of any other area, and that realization is the foundation upon which the ICRC has built its dissemination programmes for the police and other security forces.”
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Dato’ Law Hong Soon said: “I believe that input from this seminar can achieve two fundamental goals: to create an increasing sense of professionalism and ethics among police officers and to foster a higher level of citizen confidence in the system.”