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Monday 23 July 2018
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Chote: Autistic child arrested by police

INDEPENDENT Senator Sophia Chote told the Senate yesterday of a case where police arrested three children including one child with autism who had seizures while at the police station.

She was contributing to debate yesterday in the Senate on the Plea Bargaining Bill.

She said she was afraid that subsection 4 (b) (iii) of the bill was “capable of abuse.” Chote explained that the subsection says that a prosecutor agrees to take a particular course of action including an undertaking not to institute charges against family members or friends of the accused person or suspect.

“This brings me to the very real issues that we have in the prosecution of narcotics offences or firearm offences where officers go to a house and they conduct a search and they find narcotics and/or firearms and maybe money.

Now I have had the experience, where despite the fact that the law says that you ought not to round up the whole lot of people including grandmother right down to child and take them to the police station and keep them there under arrest. What you should be doing is you should be looking to see who is the person you are able to charge as a result of your investigations.” Chote, a senior attorney, said she had the “unfortunate experience” of being involved in a matter where “police went to a particular home, arrested three children, two of whom were Canadian- born children visiting their father here who had been separated from their mother, and the third was an autistic child.” She continued: “That child was taken to the police station, kept there, police looked on while the child had seizures. Had it not been for the gumption of a young attorney-at-law who simply walked into the station and walked out with the child, that child may have been kept in custody along with the mother.” She said she has seen situations that allow for abuse “because not every cop is a good cop.” She advised that in the legislation the attorney general should include a phrase such as “where there is evidence to sustain a charge.”

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