Handling of Penan Sexual Abuse Cases
Bruno Manser Fund worried about Malaysian Authorities' Handling of Penan Sexual Abuse Cases
BMF rejects allegations by leading Malaysian officials of being "uncooperative"
The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is worried about the Malaysian authorities' handling of enquiries into the sexual abuse of Penan women and girls by logging company workers in Sarawak's Middle Baram area.
Despite two recent police reports lodged by Penan women who became pregnant after being raped by loggers, Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Musa Hasan, claimed in a statement to the Borneo Post that "none of a total of 10 rape cases" investigated by the police in Baram had been linked to the allegations made public by BMF in September last. The Borneo Post, a newspaper owned by timber group KTS, is currently conducting a campaign to whitewash the Sarawak timber industry in respect of the Penan's sexual abuse claims.
On 7 November 2008, The Borneo Post carried a front-page report in which the Inspector-General of Police, Musa Hassan, said that the investigations into the sexual abuse of Penan women by logging company workers had been "more or less stalled due to the refusal of the NGO concerned, the Bruno Manser Foundation, to cooperate with police." A similar statement by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu, was reported by the Malaysian National News Agency on 12 November 2008.
The Bruno Manser Fund formally rejects these allegations and wishes to clarify that we have not been contacted by the Malaysian police on this issue. BMF is willing to come forward and make a statement to the police in Bukit Aman in order to bring about justice and help improve the victims' situation.
BMF is concerned about the lack of a political climate that could restore the trust of the sexual abuse victims in the Malaysian legal system. According to Penan sources, several victims and key witnesses are currently hiding in the forest because they feel intimidated by the way the investigations are being conducted.
In earlier instances, reports of sexual abuse such as a case reported by a Penan victim at the Kuching Central Police station on 30th September 1994 and at the Miri Central Police Station on 22nd March 1995 (Report No. 2234/95), have failed to result in legal action against the alleged perpetrators.