Parents … if your children have been questioned by police without your consent or without you being present, sue them.
Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights coordinator Edmund Bon said parents should do so for the arbitrary and unlawful interference in the lives and privacy of their children.
“They should also sue (to claim) damages for emotional distress to the children,” he said.
Bon said any police officer who questions a child without the consent of the parents, as happened to several students of SK Seri Pristana, have breached Section 113 of the Child Act 2001.
“In order to question a child, the police must first order any person to produce the child who may assist in the investigation of the offence. Given that the parents were not ordered to produce their children for questioning, Section 113 has been violated,” Bon told theSun.
He was commenting on Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s, statement that the consent of parents was unnecessary if police wished to question their children.
Khalid said this in relation to last week’s disclosure that Sungai Buloh police had admitted interviewing pupils from the Seri Pristana primary school in connection with the “shower room canteen’ controversy.
Bon said the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) could not be applied in this instance as the Child Act specifically governs those who are under 18 years of age.
“Where there is a specific law, the general law, in this case the CPC, cannot be used,” he said. However, Bon added that the Child Act is silent on the powers of the police when taking a written or oral statement from a child.
Similar views were shared by Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen, who felt that while Khalid was technically correct in his interpretation of the law, a responsible police force would inform parents before questioning their children.
“Children must be treated fairly as witnesses. They are not suspects. We have to look into the best interests of the child and we must protect children from unnecessary questioning and abuses of power,” he said.
Paulsen added that the police have to exercise discretion to ensure the best interests of the child are protected.
Meanwhile, criminal defence lawyer, Sreekant Pillay, said that children would be intimidated if they were questioned by he police, as the child would be afraid of someone in uniform, no matter how nice they can be.
“The courts take the fears of the child into consideration when testifying in court. The police can’t simply go in and pick up kids. A parent has to be present, or at least give their consent. To me, it falls short of bullying,” said Sreekant.
Tan Yi Liang, The Sun Daily