Joint media statement by MP for Batu Kawan & International Secretary for DAP Women, Kasthuri Patto and Legal Bureau Chief for DAP Women, Sangeet Kaur Deo on 16 February 2021:
Something fishy in Miri. Will justice be served for the 16-year-old girl who was raped in the Miri police lock-up?
It was reported on the 9th February, 2021 that the 19-year-old rape suspect had retracted his plea of guilt. On the same date the 2 police officers, charged for offences under the Child Act 2001, and the Penal Code and represented by the same lawyers as the rape suspect, have also claimed trial.
Yesterday it was reported that disciplinary action in the form of demotion and sacking of 11 senior and low-ranked policemen, for the failure and negligence in carrying out their duties, had been meted out. This begs the obvious question as to what their role was in the rape of this 16-year-old.
If there was any basis to discipline these 11, it must be the case that they did indeed play a role and there must be no cover up about what their roles were. It is unacceptable that police officers who are supposed to be on duty, fail to carry out their duties, resulting in heinous crimes, in this case, rape, of those in their custody and care, get away simply with administrative sanctions such as demotions or even sacking. There must be penal consequences.
It is absolutely baffling that the suspect was permitted to have access to the victim in the early hours of the morning, while both of them were supposedly under the strict surveillance of the police officers on duty. How could the rape have occurred unnoticed? Answers are required.
In this regard, while it is commendable that the rape charge was preferred very soon after the incident against the suspect, it is crucial that the police officers on duty are not let off lightly. It is simply insufficient, in these circumstances, that only the perpetrator is charged under the Penal Code. This occurrence of a rape in the lock up is a clear any dereliction of their duty is and serious breach of the statutory duty of care owed by the police to the victim, as she was under their lawful custody. Her safety and well-being were solely in the hands of the police on duty that night.
Has charge of abetment of an offence under the Penal Code been considered in these circumstances? If not, why?
Only the 2 policemen have been charged at the moment and that too under
Section 31(1) of the Child Act which states “Ill-treatment, neglect, abandonment or exposure of children (1) Any person who, being a person having the care of a child— (a) abuses, neglects, abandons or exposes the child or acts negligently in a manner likely to cause him physical or emotional injury or causes or permits him to be so abused, neglected, abandoned or exposed; or (b) sexually abuses the child or causes or permits him to be so abused, commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years or to both”
And an alternative charge under:
Section 166 of the Penal Code which states “Public servant disobeying a direction of the law, with intent to cause injury to any person. Whoever, being a public servant, knowingly disobeys any direction of the law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as such public servant, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will, by such disobedience, cause injury to any person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both”.
The police must be held equally accountable for this rape as the suspect himself.
If the rapist is not found guilty of rape, will there still be a charge against the 2 policemen for their negligence?
The outcome of this case must serve in the best interest to uphold justice of the rape survivor and to set a precedence that this should be the last incident of a person robbed of her and his right to safety and dignity, especially while being held in custody in a police station.
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary for DAP Women
Sangeet Kaur Deo
Legal Bureau Chief for Wanita DAP