PETALING JAYA: A human rights lawyer has spoken against the detention of children under preventive laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) and the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca).
“They should be dealt with through laws that are in line with the Child Act,” said Lawyers for Liberty director Eric Paulsen in a comment on recent arrests of suspects in a police operation against the Gang 24 secret society. In the most recent arrest, three secondary school students were among the 13 suspects.
It is not clear which law is being used against the suspects.
Paulsen said the authorities could be seen as taking measures that were too extreme if they were to use Sosma or Poca against children.
“Children accused of offences should be given bail pending their trials,” he added.
The government declared Gang 24 an unlawful society in 2013.
Last month, 22 men claimed trial at the High Court to charges that they were members of the gang. They were denied bail because the case fell under Sosma.
By yesterday, police had rounded up 53 suspects under the current operation against gang activities. Lawyer Gerard Lazarus told FMT the 37 students among the suspects had been released from custody without conditions.
Another lawyer, Faizal Abdul Rahman, said Sosma provisions did not exclude children from being tried under the law.
“They can be tried in normal courts when they are jointly charged with an adult for crimes on terrorism and against the state,” he said.
He added that a court could sentence a child to jail if the offence committed was considered serious.
“It is up to the court’s discretion to jail a child or make an order to send the kid to the Henry Gurney reform school,” he said.
Faizal is representing a teenager in his appeal against a 12-year jail sentence for promoting terrorism.