Protesters Call for Action Against Police for Revealing Toddler Rape Victim’s Identity
By Zaw Zaw Htwe 23 December 2019
YANGON—Hundreds of protesters have called on the government to take action against the senior police officers who revealed the identity of the victim in the “Victoria” toddler rape case, saying their actions violated the Child Rights Law.
Protesters including activists and large numbers of mothers with their children gathered in central Yangon and marched downtown on Monday demanding effective action be taken against the police, and justice for “Victoria”—as the victim has been dubbed by the media—and that authorities find the real offender in the child rape case.
On Dec. 19, the Myanmar Police Force revealed detailed information about the rape victim’s family both during a live-streamed press conference and on their Facebook page, “Ye Zarni”.
At the press conference, the police also claimed the court’s release of detained driver Ko Aung Gyi was premature, as the investigation remains incomplete.
Napyitaw’s Dekkina Thiri District Court last Wednesday released Ko Aung Gyi, who was controversially accused of being the perpetrator, for lack of evidence.
The police are standing by their allegations against the driver.
The Myanmar Police Force has been widely criticized after Brigadier-General Soe Naing Oo revealed the name of the rape victim.
Many media outlets took down their live-stream of the press conference and some media edited the victim’s name out.
Despite the harsh criticism of the police’s live-streaming of the information, the Myanmar police uploaded the documents relating to the toddler rape case including personal details of the victim and her family on their official Facebook page “Ye Zarni”.
After harsh public criticism, the posts, including the live-streamed video, were removed from Facebook within hours.
”We want to know the truth for Victoria. The truth already exists. But, they [the police] are deceiving [the public in] the case” Daw Khin Than Soe, who joined the demonstration, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
Lawyer U Kyee Myint who joined the protest said the police force had stalled the investigation into the rape, which he said could be completed in two weeks.
Protesters also said the Police Force violated not only its Code of Conduct, but also the victim’s human rights and the Child Rights Law.
”We are here to seek responsibility and accountability from the police for their shameful treatment of Victoria’s family” said Daw Moe Sandar, a farmers’ affairs activist who joined the protest.
Section 96(d) of the Child Rights Law prohibits anyone from identifying, revealing, distributing, or publishing the names of child offenders or victims in criminal cases.
Under Section 96(e) of the law, those involved in cases involving child victims and witnesses, must conceal the children’s identities.
Violators of Section 96(d) face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 600,000 kyats (about US$400), or both.
U Aung Myo Min, a human rights activist, recently told The Irrawaddy that identifying the names of child victims and child offenders is illegal.
Driver Ko Aung Gyi’s lawyer, U Khin Maung Zaw, said a lawsuit could be filed under Article 96(d) of the Child Rights Law against the three police commanders who revealed the child rape victim’s identity, and against those who uploaded the live-stream to Facebook.
The parents of the raped toddler told The Irrawaddy last week that they would file a lawsuit against the police for revealing the identities of the girl and her relatives.
Victoria’s father said that the police, whose job it is to enforce the law, had broken the law and that the family will respond with legal action.
”This is a threat to us; not just us, but the whole country. They have given the message that we will have to suffer if we don’t do as they say. Whatever happens, we won’t stop fighting for the truth” he added.
Now 3 years old, the girl was allegedly sexually assaulted at the Naypyitaw-based Wisdom Hill private nursery school on May 16, when she was still aged 2.
In July, thousands of people wearing white attended protests in Yangon and Mandalay over the toddler rape case, asking for justice and transparency.
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