12-year-old held overnight by police for toy gun

A Guyhoc resident says that she will be starting a picketing exercise tomorrow after her 12-year-old son was arrested and detained overnight by police for being in possession of a toy gun.

Esther Perreira said what upset her more was the fact that it has been reported to her that the boy had to sleep on the cold concrete floor of the lockups which also had grown men inside. The child was released yesterday afternoon.

A senior police official told Stabroek News yesterday that police launched a mobile patrol operation on Friday night in several areas of the city where gun related crimes have been occurring.

He was not familiar with the case of the boy but said that if he was held in such an operation he would have been detained until the issue he was involved in was sorted out. The official explained that the Force had facilities to accommodate juveniles.

The official said that as long as the juvenile is found with a gun, whether fake or real, he has to be dealt with according to the law.
It was explained that victims have been unable to say if all the guns used in crimes are real, and   that in many instances real and fake guns look the same.

Two legal sources this newspaper spoke with yesterday said that the police can arrest and detain a juvenile but should not question them without a guardian being present.

Perreira who operates a newspaper stand and small shop in Guyhoc related that around 8 pm the child was playing with the toy gun. The police, she said were passing at the same time.

The woman said that a rank dressed in a khaki uniform held onto her son and when she inquired about the reason, the rank verbally abused her.

She added that her son and another boy aged 14 were later placed in a police vehicle. The ranks, she alleged, refused to tell her where they were taking her child. She said that other young men were also detained by the ranks.

The woman said that later she visited the Brickdam Police Station but was unable to get any information on her son’s whereabouts. As a result she ended up at the Ruimveldt Police Station and with the help of a policeman there she later learnt that the child was being kept at the East Ruimveldt outpost.

She said that when she turned up there the ranks verbally abused her and demanded that she leave the compound. She said that she refused to do so. There she said, she saw the child sitting on the bench.

From all indications the child was later moved to the new police station that was recently constructed at the back of North Ruimveldt.
The woman said that her son has since related to her that he had to sleep on the bare concrete and had to rest his head on an orange juice bottle. She added that the boy also alleged that he was slapped by ranks while in police custody.

Perreira who said that she has not slept since the incident described the treatment meted out to her son as “cruelty.”

She said that the police released the child around 2.45 pm on self bail and all she was told was that the toy gun was the problem. “If dat is it they gotta tell them Chine[se] people stop mek dat. They can’t lock up people for that,” she said.
She said that she was advised to return the child to the police tomorrow.

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