PUTRAJAYA: Not all juveniles arrested by the police will be detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today amid concern over their welfare
He said they will each undergo a thorough investigation process before a decision is made on whether they will be detained or freed.
In a statement outlining the process, Muhyiddin said if there is evidence of their involvement in any activities under Poca, a further remand application will be made in court before the home ministry investigation officer starts the inquiry process.
Following the inquiry, the officer will submit a report to the Crime Prevention Board (CPB), which will make an evaluation based on the report and police investigation papers before deciding whether to place the juvenile under police supervision or detention or be freed.
He said that based on statistics from the CPB until Jan 30, only one juvenile is still serving a two-year detention at the special rehabilitation centre in Kluang, Johor, for being involved in violent crimes.
No one has been placed under police supervision outside the prison, he said.
Muhyiddin said the ministry is concerned and sensitive to the welfare of all detainees, including juveniles, and that if there are any, they would be placed at the centre in Kluang, separate from the adults.
During their detention, the detainees will undergo human capital development and rehabilitation programmes covering modules on religion, psychology, personality development, statehood and skills to prepare them for life after their release.
In addition, they are given access to education at the School of Integrity, which has been specially created in the prison institution in cooperation with the education ministry, he said.
Muhyiddin said the juveniles can have their detention order terminated, converted to police supervision or even be freed if they reach a stipulated level of rehabilitation based on periodic assessments conducted by the ministry.
“The ministry also runs a Police Outreach programme aimed at explaining the rights of those placed under restricted residence and exposing them to job opportunities provided by the Department of Labour and welfare aid from the Social Welfare Department, counselling sessions, health checks by the State Health Department and experience-sharing sessions by those who have gone on to become successful.
“Basically, everyone who is under restricted residence order will be given the chance to attend the programme at least once,” he said.
Muhyiddin said that just like other detainees under Poca, juveniles have legal rights to apply for judicial review or habeas corpus in court to reassess whether the detention procedures are properly adhered to.
They can also submit a representation to the Advisory Board in the Prime Minister’s Department under Article 151 of the Federal Constitution to reassess the merits of their detention, he said.
Commenting on calls by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to the government to release 142 children and juveniles detained under Poca, Muhyiddin said the figure is from police statistics for 2015 to 2017 on the arrest of juveniles believed to be involved in criminal activities.
Of the 142, he said, 25 were remanded for further investigation, 18 freed, 87 placed under restricted residence and 12 detained at the special rehabilitation centre.