KUALA LUMPUR: Caning in schools falls under degrading treatment under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as Uncat).
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Jerald Joseph said if Malaysia chooses to sign the Uncat treaty, it would be a positive step in accepting changes in corporal punishment.
Suhakam commissioner Lok Yim Pheng said the government had taken a step in the right direction by not allowing public caning in schools. Consent is still given to cane students in private.
“The Uncat committee formed is willing to work with the government to work on avoiding corporal punishment and not cane.
“Things cannot change drastically as the objective is zero caning,” Lok said during a press conference on Uncat here today.
A member of the Uncat committee, Abdelwahab Hani, said if the objective of punishment is education and discipline, there are other means of attaining the objective.
The Tunisian said many foreign countries do not practise corporal punishment but have achieved proper education and discipline.
Joseph said caning in school falls under article 16 of Uncat for derogatory treatment.
He said if Malaysia signs the treaty, the country will eventually have to reform its penal codes.
“The convention helps us work at that process better in a more systematic way.”
Recently, a Chinese primary school in Bandar Utama here came under the spotlight for caning pupils for failing to pay the parent-teacher association (PTA) fees.
According to a report in a local Chinese daily last week, the pupils were given 12 strokes of the rotan.
In April, 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi was admitted to the hospital for leg injuries allegedly caused by repeated beatings with a rubber hose by a 29-year-old assistant warden at his religious school near Johor Bahru.
The boy’s legs became infected soon after, following which both were amputated. The infection spread and the boy died on April 26.