KOTA KINABALU: Lahad Datu police are investigating a cop for allegedly handcuffing a Pelahu child during an arrest of 15 people after a picture of the boy “holding up a driver with a toy pistol” went viral.
Lahad Datu OCPD Asst Comm Nasri Mansor said they were carrying out a disciplinary probe as well as a criminal investigation into the incident that he described as "against police procedure".
“We have opened our investigation papers and as far as we are concerned, children should not be handcuffed, ” he said when contacted on Thursday (Feb 20).
Asked if the cop had been suspended, ACP Nasri said the probe was still ongoing and once completed, they would make their recommendations to the state Police Commissioner for necessary action.
He said they were looking into relevant laws on the handcuffing of minors for further action under the criminal law.
On Tuesday (Feb 18), pictures of the boy pointing a toy gun to a motorist at a Taman Aman Jaya traffic intersection while begging for money were widely circulated on social media.
This led police to a location where they found a group of Pelahu, also known locally as "Sea Gypsies", begging in the area.
The group of 11 Pelahu children - five boys and six girls, aged between six months and 12 years, - were detained along with four women, aged 24 to 31, believed to be their mothers.
They were nabbed under the Immigration Act.
Under the Child Act 2001, a child who is arrested shall not be handcuffed unless the offence is a grave crime or that the child forcibly resists the arrest or attempts to flee.
On Wednesday, ACP Nasri said the boy's mother had bought the toy gun for her son to play with the other children.
The Pelahu, who ply between Sabah’s east coast waters and that of neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia, were living in the Kampung Air area of Lahad Datu in Sabah’s east coast.
ACP Nasri said they were checking with the Immigration Department on the status of those arrested and when they came to Sabah.
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