Lawyers: Action can only be taken if there is abetment

  • Nation
  • Friday, 17 May 2019

PETALING JAYA: Amid public calls for action against those who voted in a teenager’s Instagram poll, lawyers say the intention to abet the victim’s suicide must first be proven.

Deepak Pillai (pic), who specialises in media and telecommunications law, said the online voting could be considered “abetment” only if it was proven that the voters knew the girl’s state of mind.

“The primary question is whether the persons who voted for her to take her own life had the necessary intent, or in other words, knew or had reasonable suspicion of the likely consequence of their actions.

“Case law has made clear that ‘instigation’ refers to active stimulation to do an act, or to goad or urge forward. This can only be ascertained with an examination of the facts in this case,” he said yesterday.

Lawyer Srividhya Gan­apathy also questioned how intention to abet suicide could be proven.

“She just put D/L. For any crime, there must be intention, opportunity and motive. So, what is it in this situation that you are saying can be construed as a crime?” she asked.

She believes the girl had struggled with depression even before her Instagram post, adding: “We need to address the fact that teenagers live in a difficult world and need help with mental health issues.”

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said counsellors were available to help students.

“Counsellors are the front line and if needed, they will recommend further professional help and even alert parents and teachers,” he said.

“Our experience tells us that people who want to kill themselves normally do not tell; they just do it.

“But if teachers see any strange behaviour, we are likely to seek out the reason why,” he said.

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