Criminologist: Cops aren’t doctors, make public results of alleged rape probe, police misconduct

The alleged rape of the victim of a sexual assault by the police inspector investigating the case has been described as “horrific” by a seasoned criminologist.

The episode has also raised two pressing issues, according to Associate Professor (Honorary) Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy.

“Why was the investigating officer allegedly playing doctor? And will the findings of the investigation into this alleged incident be made public?” asked Sundramoorthy.

“This is a horrific incident. A person who was supposed to protect the traumatised victim has supposedly now taken advantage of the victim’s vulnerability.”

Sundramoorthy was responding to the incident in which a 16-year-old had filed a police report on Saturday in Alor Setar, Kedah, claiming she had been raped by an inspector at a district police headquarters on Dec 28.

It was reported that the victim had been called in by the inspector to assist in the investigation into another rape case that involved the young girl and her stepfather. The inspector had allegedly asked her to remove her clothes to “examine” her before raping her.

Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, in responding to the incident, said no one is above the law and that there is a specific procedure to handle child witnesses.

“The victim had earlier alleged that she was raped by her stepfather. The SOP (standard operating procedure) is clear. A rape victim is taken straight to the hospital to be examined by medical experts,” said Sundramoorthy.

“Why was the investigating officer doing the medical examination? Who made him doctor? There’s no reason for a police personnel to carry out any medical, or forensic examination of a victim.

“In fact, any investigation or questioning involving a female victim, should be conducted in the presence of a female police officer. We must be sensitive to the victim.”

Sundramoorthy stressed that while the Royal Malaysia Police had strict SOPs, the problem was in the implementation.

“There must be continual training of officers to deal with such matters. Integrity and ethics also come into play. The heads of the criminal investigation divisions in the districts and contingents also have a role to play. Nothing should be taken for granted.”

He added that while some may view this as an “isolated case”, it involved a senior police officer.

“If senior police officers are allowed to violate the average man, woman, boy, or girl on the street, others will not hesitate to do the same. There must be zero tolerance when it comes to this.

“This (alleged rape) goes beyond a simple misconduct. It is a criminal act. I’m glad that the Inspector-General of Police (Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani) has acknowledged the case.”

Sundramoorthy added it was high time that the force kept the public updated on investigations involving wrongdoings by its personnel.

He made a similar call two years ago, after a police station chief and his subordinates were caught at a wild party at a police station in the Kajang district on July 20, 2021.

“It is important for the heads of departments or police administrators to update us on investigations involving police misconduct. This (alleged rape) is only one case, but the damage it can do to the image and reputation of the force is considerable.

“What about previous cases (of police misconduct)? What kinds of punishment were meted out? Were there truly wrongdoings by the police personnel? If there was misconduct, were the services of the personnel terminated or were they merely transferred elsewhere? Were they charged in court?

“These are the things people would like to know. Answering these questions will help improve the image and restore the credibility of the force.”

He said that the police’s Integrity and Standard Compliance Department must inform the public of the decisions made and post them online. This will show that the police will not tolerate wrongdoings by its personnel.

Sundramoorthy also said that the force will need to reflect on whether it was hiring the right type of individuals and if they were being properly trained to truly protect and serve the public.

“Perhaps the number of incidents may be small, but they should not tolerate wrongdoings,” he added.

Sundramoorthy also reiterated his call for an independent police commission to be set up in Malaysia.