Abuse: ‘Police can’t commence investigation unless the victim cooperates’ – Experts

While the police could initiate an investigation based solely on video evidence in specific cases, the response time might be delayed.

24 Feb 2024 10:15am
Image for illustrative purposes only - Photo 123RF
Image for illustrative purposes only - Photo 123RF

SHAH ALAM – When a video of an abuse case happening in public surfaced recently, the case was classified as ‘No Further Action’ (NFA) from the cop as the victim refused to maintain the police report lodged.

The decision to classify the case as NFA puzzled the public, with many questioning why can’t an investigation be done since the incident took place in a public area and some witnesses were present as well as video evidence.

Sinar Daily spoke to legal experts to get insights on such decision and found out that despite having the power and authority to proceed with charges without the victim's complaint, police may not commence an investigation unless the victim cooperates.

The initiation of a police investigation was contingent upon the victim's cooperation, influenced by factors such as insufficient evidence and the potential for victims to alter their stance.

Legal expert Fatihah Jamhari highlighted that while the police could initiate an investigation based solely on video evidence in specific cases, the response time when it comes to intimate partner or domestic violence might be delayed.

The delay was attributed to challenges such as a lack of concrete evidence and the tendency of victims to frequently change their position, occasionally aligning with the perpetrator.

“This is even more true when the victims are vulnerable due to factors like being away from family, dependence on abusers, mentally or emotionally unstable.

“They may behave in conflicting mannerism too, often there are no 'perfect' victims and abusers play on the weakness of their victims to manipulate,” Fatihah said when contacted.

Related Articles:

She said such behaviour was not uncommon in intimate relationships and highlighted that abusers often manipulate victims into feeling responsible for the abuse.

She further emphasised that physical abuse could escalate from emotional and mental abuse within these relationships.

Fatihah stressed that she could not specifically speak to the psychological aspects, however, she noted that it was prevalent where many intimate partners and spouses, particularly those financially reliant on their abusers.

Thus, she said the victims tend to endure the abuse, either believing it is a norm or feeling trapped in a cycle of abuse due to a lack of support elsewhere.

As a lawyer, she emphasised prioritising the initial step of physically distancing clients from abusers when encountering those considering separation or divorce due to abuse.

This might involve moving out of the marital residence or terminating cohabitation arrangements.

Fatihah advises clients to seek therapy to establish a stronger support system for themselves.

In her line of work, she often observed clients needing multiple consultations before they were ready to initiate significant changes in their situations.

Meanwhile, criminal lawyer Farhan Read emphasised that while the police technically have the authority to proceed without the victim's complaint, the practical reality was that an investigation might not be launched without the victim's cooperation.

“The police do actually have the power to pursue the matter even without her (victim) complaint.

“So, for example, if her co-worker had made a report saying that she noticed these injuries on her friend and such.

“However, if the victim herself says she doesn't want to cooperate with the police or refuses to give a statement or refuses to go and get a medical report, then there's nothing much also that the police can do,” he said when contacted by Sinar Daily.

Farhan also emphasised his concern about domestic violence cases in Malaysia.

However, he added that these cases are often perceived by the police as a personal matter between husband and wife.

He stressed that, due to the awareness of our cultural sensitivities in being a Muslim country, such situations were sometimes ‘tolerated.’

However, he acknowledged that there were instances where tolerance goes beyond what was reasonable and unfortunately, the prevailing mindset would not always align well with addressing such issues effectively.

Having said that, Farhan added that he believed there was a distinction between minor injuries like bruises and more severe cases requiring hospitalisation.

Nevertheless, he stated that the decision to pursue legal action ultimately rests with the victim.