Malaysia's deputy police chief on Wednesday defended the practice of making detainees strip and perform squats, following a public outcry over the alleged mistreatment of a woman who was secretly filmed naked in police custody. Musa Hassan, the deputy inspector general of police, said such strip-search procedures are also used by authorities in other countries such as the United States and Australia to ensure that suspects weren't concealing banned objects such as weapons and drugs.
"Instructions for detainees to perform squats are not precisely written in the regulations," Musa said during a public inquiry into the case of a woman who was allegedly forced to disrobe and do squats in front of a female officer in a police lockup.
"It is merely a practice, and this practice is accepted," Musa told a panel of legal experts and politicians appointed by the government to determine if police violated the woman's rights.
Musa stressed that Malaysia's police personnel were constantly reminded to respect the dignity of detainees in accordance with international human rights standards.
The woman in the video was initially believed to be a Chinese national or an ethnic Chinese Malaysian, based on her appearance in the grainy footage. But a 22-year-old ethnic Malay Malaysian who testified at the inquiry Tuesday claimed that she was the woman. China's government formally protested and called for action after the video was made public by a Malaysian opposition lawmaker last month. The camera phone footage also triggered public concerns that police mistreatment of detainees was rampant.
The inquiry panel, which began public hearings Monday, has barred the media from revealing the identity of the woman who testified Tuesday, saying it would cause her undue embarrassment. She claimed the incident in the lockup occurred in June when she was arrested for alleged drug possession, and that she has since been formally charged, but remains free on bail. Also at Wednesday's inquiry, police constable Zul Fatah Saari denied he filmed the woman, reports the AP. I.L.