KUALA LUMPUR - Complaints of police brutality by personnel based in Sabah last year included one from a woman, says the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
According to its 2012 annual report, of the nine complaints against police, one came from a woman.
It said there were complaints of brutality while individuals were held in custody, including the case of the woman, who claimed that she was beaten.
"Police personnel also allegedly threatened violence to force suspects into confessing wrongdoing," it said.
The report added that when Suhakam approached Sabah police with the complaints, their reply was that their personnel had complied with standard operating procedures (SOP).
When contacted, Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee said the Beaufort OCPD gave the SOP answer when informed of the woman's complaint.
She said Suhakam then advised the woman to lodge a police report.
When Suhakam later wrote to the OCPD and the state police disciplinary division chief on the matter, Dr Khaw said, they replied that they had opened up an investigation paper and set up a special unit to investigate allegations of misconduct by police personnel.
She said Suhakam often advised complainants to lodge a police report to ensure they were serious and to make it easier to follow up with the police.
"In the Sabah case, the complainant was advised to lodge a police report because she did not have any supporting documents and she also needed the police report to request for a medical check-up," Dr Khaw said.
She said there must be a formal investigation into any allegation of torture while in custody.
Suhakam also hoped to get legal power to conduct surprise visits to detention centres as a way of deterring any such incident, Dr Khaw added.