PETALING JAYA: The alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl who was held at the Miri police station lockup raises concerns on the government's lack of measures and mechanisms to protect children, says the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
Suhakam's children's commissioner Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said that such an incident should not have occurred, especially when the child was under the supervision of law enforcement officers.
Noor Aziah, who said she was appalled at the incident, said it was of utmost importance that any investigation be carried out in the best interests of the child.
"More often than not, when a child comes into conflict with the law, there is a tendency to forget the fact that children are first and foremost victims and fundamental care to protect them is highly necessary," she said in a statement on Monday (Jan 18).
She said that as Malaysia is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has an obligation to undertake the necessary actions to protect children's rights.
She urged the police to take serious and immediate action to address the matter, including reviewing its standard operating procedure for the lockup and improving its facilities such as CCTV.
The police probe into the alleged rape of the girl by a male detainee on Jan 9 is expected to be completed this week.
Sarawak police commissioner Comm Datuk Aidi Ismail said the investigation was being conducted by the state police headquarters and Miri district police after the girl lodged a report on the incident last Saturday (Jan 16).
In her report, the teenager claimed that she was raped by a fellow detainee in the lockup's toilet at about 4am on Jan 9 while she was being held overnight.
She had been arrested on Jan 8 for alleged involvement in illegal online gambling activities.
Two police personnel on duty at the time of the incident have been suspended pending the completion of the investigation.
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