Musa Hassan, the deputy inspector general of police, said such strip-search procedures were also used by authorities in countries such as the United States and Australia to ensure that suspects were not concealing banned objects such as weapons and drugs.
“It is merely a practice, and this practice is accepted,” Musa said on Wednesday 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 compound.
Musa, speaking to a panel of legal experts and politicians appointed by the government to determine if police violated the woman’s rights, said police personnel were constantly reminded to respect the dignity of detainees, in accordance with international human rights standards.
Based on her appearance in a secretly shot video, the woman was initially believed to be a Chinese national or an ethnic Chinese Malaysian. But a 22-year-old ethnic Malaysian who testified at the inquiry on Tuesday claimed she was the woman.
China’s government has issued a formal protest and urged action after the video was made public by a Malaysian opposition lawmaker who received it from an anonymous source last month.
The camera phone footage also triggered public concerns that police mistreatment of detainees was rampant.
The inquiry panel, which began public hearings on Monday, has forbidden the media from revealing the identity of the woman, saying it would cause her undue embarrassment.
She claimed the incident occurred in June when she was arrested for alleged drug possession, and that she has since been formally charged, but remains free on bail.
Video footage shot on a mobile
The Malay woman returned to the inquiry on Wednesday after Sankara Nair, a Malaysian lawyer, said there were doubts that she was the woman in the video, because she had her back to the public gallery Tuesday in the courtroom where the inquiry was taking place.
After the woman faced reporters and members of the public at Wednesday’s hearing, Nair said: “Yes, positively identified.”
Also at Wednesday’s inquiry, police constable Zul Fatah Saari denied he filmed the woman. Another officer, Suhaimi Nordin, said on Tuesday that Zul Fatah showed him the footage in June and indicated to him that Zul Fatah recorded it at a police station in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.