Youth frisking to be carried out as per law

The earlier proposals to impose a curfew on youth and to ban the sale of knives by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP)  are not against the country’s existing law and therefore we don’t have any problems, said the Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs, Damchoe Dorji, at the 16th meet-the-press.

RBP submitted those plans to the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs a few months ago as the police doesn’t have any authority to practice such measures. It said RBP was to carry out mass patrolling and frisk all youth who are out after 10 pm in a group of more than two.

Youths in two or more in numbers to be questioned and frisked, and in case weapon were found weapon the police seize them and profile. For the first offence they’ll be warned and handed over to their parents. If it is a second offence they’ll be arrested and put charge sheet. In case there is no sign of suspicious behavior there would not be checking even they are seen after 10 pm, police said.

The minister said “we had to make very hard decision when it comes to the people’s safety. Therefore we have to enforce some restrictions which become very close to jeopardize certain rights”. He emphasized that the government needs to ensure any restrictions it imposes are as per the existing laws. “We ensure no fundamental rights are violated”.

Regarding the frisking of youth after 10 pm, the minister said it is completely legitimate and fair means as long as there is reasonable suspicion. The police should have power to search and seize under the circumstance that it suspects a person is likely to commence criminal offence or is in possession of illegal weapons. “I do not think there will be any violations (of laws) and the public should appreciate that police are doing this for the safety of the society. Anyone who wants to wage war against the police better make peace with the criminals,” he added.

Some 75 youths were found involved in the battery case last year, of which 18 were related to a battery of stabbing, according to the RBP record.

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