KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Outraged by the death of 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi yesterday, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) wants the government to abolish corporal punishment in schools.
Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail reminded the government that corporal punishments violate the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) because the violent measures damage a child physically, mentally and emotionally.
“This tragic case is a horrendous reminder to the Government that corporal punishment in schools must be eliminated because any form of physical violence against a child negatively impacts on the enjoyment of the child’s many other rights and aspects of the child’s development including his/her psychological, health, education and social status,” he said in a statement today.
Malaysia ratified the CRC in 1995.
Razali noted that prior to his death, the student of the private Islamic boarding school in Kota Tinggi, Johor was allegedly repeatedly physically punished, including a beating with a rubber hose by the dormitory assistant warden who was a former convict.
“Ostensibly as it were to promote school discipline, such acts are tantamount to torture, which the Malaysian society cannot accept,” he said.
Razali also said Suhakam fully supports scrutiny into the prevalence of physical punishment to discipline schoolchildren and a full investigation on whether anyone is criminally or even civilly liable for failing to act on such violence.
He also insisted on mandatory background checks for all school hires and expressed disbelief that there are no legal procedures or a child protection policy for schools to check on potential staff before they are allowed to work with children.
“Background checks must be mandatory for all persons intending to work with children as this will identify if the potential employee has a criminal record suggesting that they may pose a threat of physical or sexual violence against children.
“This is in line with the spirit of the CRC and the Child Act 2001 for all children to have their best interests taken as a primary consideration in all actions or decisions that concern them, both in the public and private sphere,” he added.
Mohamad Thaqif was allegedly beaten on the soles of his feet with a hose on March 24, but only taken to hospital in Johor Baru on April 19, where he was found to have massive bacterial infection in all his limbs and kidney failure.
He had both legs amputated below the knee last Saturday and was later scheduled for surgery to amputate his right forearm but died before it could take place.
Police have since classified his death as murder. The schoolboy’s autopsy report is expected to be ready in two weeks.
A 29-year-old assistant warden from the school is currently under police custody.