When the police sought to extend the remand order on the wife of the late cradle fund CEO Nazrin Hassan on Sept 18, a protest (above) took place outside the court complex with regards to the way Nazrin’s stepsons were treated by the police following their arrest.
The protest comprised of Nazrin’s family members and some members of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Voice of the Children.
Under Rule 29 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, children in prison with a parent shall never be treated as prisoners.
There is no need to use handcuffs or even prison attire on these children as they are only in remand.
Based on the presumption of innocence, these children are innocent until they are proven guilty, thus there is no need for them to be treated as prisoners.
The psychological impact of such treatment on these children must be taken into consideration as their lives will never be the same again.
Should they be released from prison, it is highly likely that they will be victims of bullying and teasing by their peers, and these can be very damaging.
Even if sufficient evidence is gathered to bring forth a charge against them, they need not be treated like prisoners.
Cases involving minors in prison, whether in remand or serving a sentence must be handled subtly.
Care must be taken to avoid excessive exposure and involvement of the press.
There is no need for speculation, and the accuracy of facts must be ascertained before they are revealed to the public.
These children, too, have a right to privacy.
At any point during the investigation, it is pertinent that decisions are made in line with the best interests of the child, whether or not he/she is proven guilty at a later stage.
The writer is a senior lawyer in the practice areas of family and criminal law.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.