‘Police violated the spirit of Child Act’
Suhakam also denounced the SK Seri Pristana management for not putting the students well-being first by allowing the police to interview the children without parents' consent.PETALING JAYA: The police had violated the spirit of Child Act 2001 by conducting interviews with students from SK Seri Pristana without the consent of their parents, said Suhakam.
“While legislation is silent about the presence of parents or guardian when the police interview children, the authorities have violated the spirit of the law where it says that a child’s rights must be protected at all times.
“It is equally disappointing that the school had failed to place their students well-being first in the said incident,” said Suhakam acting chairman Khaw Lake Tee, in a statement.
Last week, the Sungai Buloh police admitted to questioning several children, without the presence of their parents, in regards to the case where non-Muslim students were asked to eat in the shower room during Ramadan.
The admission drew the ire of some parents but Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar defended the act, saying there was no provision in the law that requires the police to obtain parents’ permission to interview their children.
Debunking Khalid’s assessment, Khaw explained that the Child Act was in line with the four core principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Malaysia is a signatory.
“These principles include non-discrimination, the right to life, survival and development, as well as devotion to the best interest of the child.
“Article 5 of the CRC emphasises the need for the party state to respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to provide appropriate direction and guidance to their children, in a manner consistent with the latter’s capacity,” she said.
Khaw urged the police and the school authorities to always uphold a child interest first at all times in order to avoid such occurrence from happening again.
He added that such interviews to be conducted with the consent and in the presence of their parents or guardians, as well as being handled by someone well trained in interviewing children.
“We also recommend that the government put in better protection and safeguard for children in the legislations. pending which, to issue appropriate guidelines on the handling such cases,” said Khaw.