PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian government cannot disclaim responsibility for the death camps found in Perlis, said Malaysian Bar President Steven Thiru.
"It is inconceivable that an extremely sensitive area such as our international border with Thailand could have been left so unpatrolled and unmonitored, as to permit these "death camps" to have been set up and mushroom," said Steven in a press release on Thursday.
He said that ignorance on the part of the authorities raises serious questions of complicity or incompetence, or both.
Steven pointed out that The Star had reported the police's General Operations Force knowing about the existence of the camps in November 2014.
"What is deeply perplexing and numbing is that these "death camps" housing human traffickers or migrant smugglers and their victims had been established along the Malaysian side of the border for allegedly several years, ostensibly without any detection on the part of Malaysian law enforcement agencies," he said.
It was reported that 139 mass graves were found spread across 28 human trafficking detention camps near Wang Kelian, Perlis.
The graves were believed to contain the remains of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants trying to enter Malaysia through Thailand.
Steven said the failure to detect the camps should be investigated via a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) and that the government act on the findings without delay.
"In order to be credible, members of the RCI must include civil society representatives, especially those involved in working with the various categories of people movement into Malaysia," said Steven.
Steven added that the RCI should get to the bottom of the allegations of complicity, collusion and corruption of law enforcement agencies.
"We commend the Malaysian Government for the arrests of 12 (IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar on Thursday confirmed only two) police officers for alleged involvement in human trafficking but this can only be the tip of a very large iceberg.
"However, a purely internal inquiry will be insufficient, hence the need for a comprehensive RCI," he said.
He added that the RCI must look into the different forms of people movement, commonly referred to as "mixed migration", in Malaysia.
The RCI should investigate the flow of foreign migrant workers, undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, he said.
Steven said the RCI should also address questions relating to appropriate laws for oversight of regular flows of migrants; interdiction of irregular flows; protection for refugees, asylum seekers and victims of trafficking; and prosecution of offenders.
"The Malaysian Government must take swift action to seek out and arrest the perpetrators of the death camps, whether they are the traffickers or smugglers themselves, or the colluders and others who are complicit in this extreme example of one person's inhumanity towards another. Justice demands it," he said.