The next time you are stopped by persons who claimed they are plain clothes police, you are under no obligation to answer their questions or follow their orders, lawyers told Malaysiakini today.
'Policeman who is not wearing his uniform does not have the authority to stop anyone,' lawyer and human rights activist Sivarasa Rasiah said.
Sivarasa was commenting on the alleged gang-rape of an 18-year-old Uni student by four men claiming to be police officers on New Year's Eve. The girl said that her car was stopped in Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur and were asked by the men to open the car bonnet. She was then told that she had committed an offence and ordered to follow the men to a police station. The girl was driven in her car along the North-South expressway to the Tapah-Cameron Highlands road before she was raped in an oil palm estate.
This incident, and many others, have sparked confusion over the procedures which motorists must follow when flagged down by the police. The most common problem is that most people take instructions without determining if the other person is really a cop,' lawyer Annie Santiago said.
However, if you are stopped by a uniformed policeman, then you are required to stop. But you need not get out of the car because you are not expected to do so, Santiago said. The other rule to follow is to provide your identity card only when you are asked to do so. 'Even then, you should get his ID first to confirm if he is a cop. There is no harm in calling the relevant police station to verify if he is supposed to be on duty that day,' Sivarasa said.
Both lawyers said that motorists should never follow an officer to the police station unless one is under arrest . 'If you are not sure, and your instincts tell you that something is wrong, then drive off to the nearest police station and lodge a report,' Sivarasa said.
In response to the alleged gang-rape of the 18-year-old, Women's Aid Organisation executive-secretary Ivy Josiah called on the police to launch an education program to teach the public about their rights to prevent them from being victimised by bogus police officers.
Procedures to follow in the event you are stopped by uniformed police Officers while driving:
1. Stop the car and wind down your window.
2. If the police officers ask for your documents, request to see their IDs first.
3. If you are satisfied about their identity, ask them if you are being summoned, and for what offense.
4. Produce your identity card and driver's license and wait to collect your summon ticket.
In the event that the police officers ask you to follow them to the police station:
1. Ask if you are under arrest and for what offense.
2. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to leave.
In the event you are flagged down by persons you believe could be plain clothes police:
1. Do not stop because plain clothes police officers do not have the authority to stop you.
2. Drive to the nearest police station and lodge a report. (The same procedure applies to pedestrians)
In the event the police come to your house:
1. Do not let them in before checking their IDs.
2. If you are not satisfied, phone the nearest police station and confirm if they had been sent to your house.
3. You are under no obligation to allow them into the house if they don't have a search warrant.
4. Do not go with them if you are not under arrest.
In the event persons who claimed to be plain clothes police who come to your house:
1. Do not let him in because they do not have the authority to do so.
2.. Lodge a report at the nearest police station.