NOVEMBER 15 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is troubled that the protection mechanisms in the country for children are falling short in protecting them from sexual violence and abuse, to the extent that complaints do not necessarily lead to successful prosecutions, mainly due to weaknesses in the current laws.
Although child sexual abuse is largely a hidden crime, according to media reports, there were 2,987 cases reported to the police between January 2012 and July 2016, and charges were filed in 2,189 cases.
Shockingly, there were only 140 successful convictions.
Suhakam is appalled that the Official Secrets Act has been cited by the police as the reason for not publishing data in relation to child sexual abuse in the country.
While Suhakam fully supports the Government s intention to enact a Child Sexual Crimes Act to protect children from sexual abuse, it cautions that such efforts will fail unless protection mechanisms are properly implemented and the justice system is reformed to ensure that sexual abuse cases are effectively reported and thoroughly prosecuted.
Suhakam reiterates that having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Malaysia must undertake to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse which includes the exploitative use of children in pornographic materials.
Regrettably, specific legislative measures are still not in place to prohibit among others, the possession of child pornography and activities relating to the making or dissemination of child pornographic material.
Suhakam is of the view that specific provisions must be enacted to criminalise the acts of paedophiles; as well as the publication, possession and distribution of child pornography.
Suhakam hopes that the seriousness of offences against children be fully and immediately acknowledged by the Government and all stakeholders.
Tan Sri Razali Ismail
* Tan Sri Razali Ismail is chairman of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam)