Why did cops put a teen in lock-up? Watchdog asks after girl raped by detainee in Miri

Sarawak police commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail had given the assurance that a thorough investigation would be carried out to determine whether there are elements of negligence in the case. — Borneo Post Online pic
Sarawak police commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail had given the assurance that a thorough investigation would be carried out to determine whether there are elements of negligence in the case. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — A watchdog group has said today that it was unnecessary for the police to hold a minor in a lock-up for a prolonged period of time, which had then led to her alleged rape by another detainee.

In a statement, Eliminating Deaths and Abuse In Custody Together (EDICT) said that in non-serious cases, the police should have only interrogated minor suspects in the investigation room, and not have placed them in a lock-up.

“The failure of the police to ensure that there is no association between child and adult detainees is contrary to the requirements of Section 85(a) of the Child Act 2001,” it said.

Section 85(a) of the Act requires appropriate arrangements to be made to prevent child detainees from associating with an adult who is charged with an offence.

This includes instances when the child detainee is being conveyed to or from a police station or place of detention, being detained in a police station or place of detention, being conveyed to or from any court, or waiting before or after attendance in any court.

Yesterday, the police said they are investigating an incident in which a 16-year-old girl claimed that she was raped by a male detainee while being held at the Miri Police Station lockup on January 9.

Sarawak police commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail had given the assurance that a thorough investigation would be carried out to determine whether there are elements of negligence in the case.

“It was found that there was a violation of police procedure when the teenage girl was arrested, for example per Section 85(b) of the Act,” EDICT said.

“The section states that a juvenile detained in a lock-up shall be cared for by at least one female officer. However in this case the cell she occupied was not taken care of and could even be opened by other detainees.”

EDICT said the case was proven, the police must be held accountable for negligence and misconduct against the victim as well as disobeying the instructions contained in the Act.

“We have been advising the police since last year about the need to detain someone during this pandemic season. The police can avoid a person from being detained in a lockup that has a high risk of infection and can even cause other problems like in this child’s case. 

“Police can continue the investigation by interrogating suspects or case witnesses without the need to be detained in a lockup,” it said.

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