Comply with Child Act when detaining minors for MCO offences, police told

Those who breach the movement control order are subject to a fine and/or maximum jail term of six months.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged the police to comply with provisions in the Child Act when dealing with minors caught violating the movement control order (MCO), following news that a 13-year-old Rohingya boy was arrested for breaching the restrictions.

“The law which came into effect in 2001 is very clear about how children below the age of 18 should be handled during detention, but sadly there is no compliance,” Baljit Sidhu said.

The teenager pleaded guilty yesterday to breaching the MCO in Pandan Mewah, Hulu Langat, on April 15.

A judge at the Ampang Magistrate’s Court postponed sentencing to July 1 pending a probation report by welfare department officials as required under the Child Act.

According to lawyer Collin Arvind Andrew, who took the case on a pro bono basis, two Malaysians from the boy’s neighbourhood posted the RM500 bail so that he could be reunited with his mother.

“Otherwise, he would be languishing in a detention centre for two months,” Arvind told FMT.

He added that the boy was handcuffed together with adults when he was brought to court although a policeman removed his restraints when told about a provision in the law.

He said the boy also claimed he had been held together with adult suspects during detention.

Baljit said it was vital to separate children from adult suspects during police investigations.

However, he claimed there are no gazetted police lock-ups for this purpose.

Arvind meanwhile questioned why the boy was only charged seven days after his arrest.

“Why take so long?” he said, adding that MCO offences are non-arrestable crimes to begin with.

Under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 governing the MCO, offenders can only be jailed for up to six months, fined RM1,000 or both.

Lawyer Chan Chen Hui urged the welfare department to set up shelter homes for children, including foreigners, who could not post bail pending their probation reports given the present health crisis.

She said she understood that department officials could not meet with parents or guardians to prepare the reports as they are restricted under the MCO.

She also said the Rohingya boy should have been quarantined for 14 days before being sent home.

“He was in a police lock-up for seven days. What if he was infected?”

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