APRIL 10 — The Malaysian Bar welcomes the passing of the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017 (“Act”) by the Dewan Rakyat in the recently concluded Parliament session. This new law marks progress for child protection in Malaysia by bringing our laws closer in line with international standards, and towards fulfilling our obligations as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”). We take this opportunity to recognise the efforts of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs, YB Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman Said, in bringing the Act to pass.
The Malaysian Bar, however, opposes the inclusion of the mandatory whipping provisions in the Act, which may include whipping a male who is more than 50 years of age. Whipping is a harsh and barbaric form of punishment, with long-term harmful psychological effects, and has failed as a retributory and deterrent punishment. International human rights norms condemn whipping and other forms of corporal punishment as cruel, inhumane or degrading, and call for their abolition. There is no justification for Malaysia to condone and administer such a merciless punishment.
The Malaysian Bar thus calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately repeal the provisions for whipping in the Act as well as in all legislation, and forthwith accede to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In order to better safeguard and protect our children, there is a dire need for specific and explicit legislative provisions to prohibit child marriage. Such legislation must establish 18 years as the minimum age for marriages in Malaysia, in accordance with the Act and the CRC, which define “child” as a person under the age of 18 years.
The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to reform all existing laws on child marriages, to bring them in line with international standards and to ensure compliance with our obligations under the CRC.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.