Using handcuffs on juveniles is too ‘degrading’

Source: The Sun Daily

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights and child and youth justice advocates have called for an inclusion to prohibit handcuff while detaining juveniles in the new Child Act 2015 which is expected to be tabled in the next Parliament session.

In highlighting the dubious practice by the authorities, forum panellists at the “Child in Conflict with the Law: The Way Forward” held at Bar Council have expressed aversion with the practice of using handcuff while detaining juvenile.

“It is degrading. Children should not be treated as criminals simply because they have committed an offence under the law or moral or religious wrongdoing. Children should not be handcuffed except in serious offences,” said University Malaya senior law lecturer Dr Farah Nini Dusuki.

She said it was important that the proposed new Child Act must expressively include the clause of removing the practice of handcuffing children, “which would overwrite the inappropriate procedure while taking into custody a child suspect for committing petty crimes.”

“The current Child Act does not mention on the part of arrest or detention of children. The procedures are not complete. So when it is not complete, the police fall back to their ordinary procedure of detaining a suspect or managing an alleged criminal,” said Dr Farah.

She stated that handcuffing a child was only appropriate for grave offences.

“There are only four – punishable with death, Firearms (Increased Penalty) Act 1971 and any offences under the Dangerous Drug Act which is punishable more than five years imprisonment,” Dr Farah said.

Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said the new Child Act should be for the best interest of the juveniles.

“From Suhakam point of view, the government should refer back to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The new Act should work in the best interest of a child. We should do things accordingly. Is handcuffing the appropriate thing for a child?” said Nayagam.

Bar Council committee on Child Forum Baskaran Manikam highlighted of the practice by police to use chain handcuffs when juveniles were brought to court for remand order alongside other suspect criminals.

“I don’t know how to describe it but this is a tasteless thing to do. It’s cruel that we as a civilised nation practice this for remand hearing. Juveniles were part of that chain which include adults. How is that helpful?” asked Baskaran.

Manimagalai Gowindasamy echoes Baskaran’s opinion by stating that the current law is silent on the practice of handcuff for underaged boys or girls.

“When they (juveniles) are handcuffed they feel kind of shamed, very shamed. They may not have the mind of an adult but they understand what humiliation is,” said Manimagalai.


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