Legislative reforms for child protection must continue — Malaysian Bar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

whatyouthink-new-logoAPRIL 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. Read more

‘To marry girl to rapist is to disregard statutory rape law’

Source: FMT News

Society should not underplay the enormity of the crime of statutory rape by allowing or encouraging marriage to the perpetrator, says Joint Action Group for Gender Equality.

Image taken from FMT News

Image taken from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: To say it is in the best interests of an underage girl who is pregnant out of wedlock to marry the person who impregnated her is to disregard the law on statutory rape, says Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG).

Statutory rape in the Penal Code in Malaysia is defined as sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16 as she is unable to understand the nature and consequence of giving consent.

JAG said society should not underplay the enormity of the crime of statutory rape by allowing or encouraging marriage to the perpetrator.

“This is a grave abuse of the law, which was put in place to protect children,” it said in a statement today.

JAG was responding to shariah lawyer Faiz Fadzil, who had in a recent article said it would be best for a minor who had become pregnant as a result of illicit sex to marry, as long as she and the person who impregnated her were agreeable to marriage.

JAG protested that the statement was damaging as it misrepresented the term “consent”, disregarded the law on statutory rape and dismissed the reality of the power imbalance that existed in cases of underage marriage. Read more

Pushing the principles of non-discrimination

Source: Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah has what it takes to inspire the Malaysian Government to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The State is already a shining example of racial and religious harmony in the country but human rights bodies believe that the State Government can take it one step further by implementing the principles of non-discrimination in the administration of the State.

A close-door roundtable discussion, jointly organised by Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas) and Suhakam, was held on Thursday, which aimed to engage stakeholders in the State Government to promote the implementation of the ICERD principles.

Organisers hoped the engagement could be treated as a commitment by the State Government to present itself a model government in eradicating race-based politics and reduce racial discrimination in Malaysia.

Malaysia is one of 15 out of 175 United Nations member countries that are not yet party to the ICERD, including North Korea, Myanmar and a dozen authoritarian countries.

Of the seven UN treaties, Malaysia has ratified three, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD).

Suhakam, however, believes that the country is ready to ratify the ICERD, although it has had to deal with many issues concerning racial and religious discriminations. Read more

Malaysia must protect children from sexual exploitation, abuse — Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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. Read more

Children Without Rights in Malaysia

Photo by Muhammad Rafiq, 16, Rohingya refugee in Malaysia. Image courtesy of Yayasan Chow Kit, drawn from Art For Grabs' Facebook event page.

Photo by Muhammad Rafiq, 16, Rohingya refugee in Malaysia. Image courtesy of Yayasan Chow Kit, drawn from Art For Grabs’ Facebook event page.

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, Malaysia has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But we also hold 5 reservations. Malaysia does not believe that all children should have the freedom from discrimination and the freedom from torture. Malaysia also doesn’t believe all children should have the rights to nationality, to free and compulsory primary education, and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. What kind of a country are we?

As we are told to care for our own, we often think of other children as other people’s problems. But what about the children that nobody is thinking of? What can we do better protect our children, not just the ones at home, but also the ones failed by the state?

We gather a few of our most passionate children’s rights activists to tell us:
1. Hartini Zainudin, founder of Yayasan Chow Kit, on stateless children
2. Goh Siu Lin, President of the Association of Women Lawyers, on unilateral conversion of children
3. Dorian Wilde, founder of Transmen of Malaysia, on LGBT adolescents
4. Gloria Martinez, Senior Programme Manager of Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI), on access to education
5. Sharmila Sekaran, President of Voice of the Children, on juvenile justice
Moderator: Juana Jaafar

Sat 24 Sep, 4pm,
Grd flr, The School, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

This forum is in conjunction with Art For Grabs: Family Squad!, 24 & 25 Sep 2016, The School, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

Photo by Muhammad Rafiq, 16, Rohingya refugee in Malaysia. Image courtesy of Yayasan Chow Kit.

To Catch a Child Sex Predator

Source: R.AGE

We were at the crowded lobby of a four-star hotel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. That’s where the child sex predator decided to make his big move.

The man, in his late 30s, had spent most of the past hour at a cafe across the street patiently trying to convince Natalie, his 15-year-old “friend” he met on WeChat, to accompany him to his hotel room, where they could really get to know each other. She needed to “learn to trust”, he kept repeating.

Natalie, however, was reluctant, and afraid. They had only started messaging each other a week ago, and she had heard many “stranger danger” stories.

RELATED: Our journalist describes her “date” with a child sex predator.

But the man knew what he was doing. He was a “groomer”, a sex predator who trawls mobile chat apps for victims, slowly gaining their trust before manipulating them to fulfill his twisted, perverted fantasies.

Throughout the conversation, he remained kind, yet persistent, until Natalie finally caved, agreeing to walk with him to the hotel lobby, nothing more.

When they got there, he made his big play. He made it clear he wanted to have sex, along with an altogether more horrifying confession.

“You’re not the only young girl I know. There are many,” he said.

“Do all of them do this with you?” she asked.

“I’ve done it with girls from Form One to Form Six! The one that is in Form One (aged 13) is from a school in KL. There’s another one in Selangor, but she’s in Form Four now.”

(Details have been generalised to protect the identity of the minors involved).

What the man didn’t know was that R.AGE journalists were stationed all around the hotel, listening to his every word, filming his every move.

And Natalie was actually a 26-year-old R.AGE undercover journalist, disguised to look like a schoolgirl.

Our journalist was walking a tightrope. She had to find out as much about the man as possible – particularly if he has committed other crimes against children – without spooking him off. She had to keep his attention, without ever saying anything remotely suggestive. Read more

Heed Wake-Up Call to Establish a Comprehensive National Child Protection Policy — Malaysian Bar

PRESS RELEASE

Heed Wake-Up Call to Establish a Comprehensive National Child Protection Policy

The Malaysian Bar is aghast at the recent public disclosure that close to 200 young and vulnerable children, aged between 6 months and 12 years, were systematically sexually abused over a period of almost nine years between March 2006 and December 2014, by a British citizen residing in Malaysia.

All the children preyed upon by the paedophile, Richard Huckle — now branded “Britain’s worst paedophile” — were pre-pubescent vulnerable children from minority ethnic communities into which he had ingratiated himself. The paedophile was able to gain access to the children, including those living in shelter homes, by posing as a student, a photographer, an English teacher and/or a philanthropist. He offered to help with the children’s education, when in fact he was systematically abusing the children.

The paedophile was arrested by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Authority (“NCA”) on his arrival at Gatwick Airport in London in December 2014. He was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, 71 counts of child sex offences in the United Kingdom. On 7 June 2016, he was sentenced to 22 life sentences to be served concurrently. He now faces a minimum jail term of 23 years and 242 days. Read more

‘Child Act amendments insufficient, laws against paedophilia and child porn needed’

Source: Malaysiakini

SUHAKAMJUNE o3 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is deeply concerned that hundreds of children aged between six months and 12 years were sexually abused, raped and/or sexually assaulted in Malaysia by a British paedophile between 2006 and 2014 as reported by the media.

The commission has repeatedly urged the government to amend existing laws to address all forms of sexual offences against children, and despite recent and positive amendments to the Child Act 2001, several matters of concern remain:

(i) 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 performances and materials.

However, specific legislative measures have not been taken to prohibit among others, the possession of child pornography and activities relating to the making or dissemination of child pornographic material. Read more

Deep concern over corporal punishment against children in schools — Suhakam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

SUHAKAMMAY 14 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (“the Commission”) welcomes the recent proposal by the Ministry of Education Malaysia that schools will be given more authority in managing and addressing disciplinary issues among students as part of an amendment to the Education (School Discipline) Regulations 1959.

However, the Commission is deeply concerned that such methods will include corporal punishment, particularly since the Child (Amendment) Bill 2015 now substitutes the punishment of whipping on male child offenders with community service instead.

The Commission is of the view that there is a mistaken belief held not only by individuals, but is also widespread in various societies and endorsed at Government level that corporal punishment is an effective form of discipline for children. Read more

Extend right to work to all – Aslam Abd Jalil

Source: NST Online

BY ASLAM ABD JALIL

I REFER to the letter “Give  jobs to locals instead of refugees” (NST, March 21). I would like to correct some points raised by the writer.

ON allowing refugees to work: It is an effort to weed out those who hold fake United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards.

This mechanism can help because the records of refugees will be tallied with their work permits. However, it is more than this. Allowing refugees to work means they will no longer be employed illegally or work in “black market”.

Work rights for refugees are a violation of the country’s laws: Section 55 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 gives discretionary power to the home minister to allow a class of people to enter this country and it has been used a few times. IMM 13 permits were issued before to the Moro, Acehnese and Rohingya refugees to allow them to stay and work. In fact, the Muslim Chams from Cambodia were accepted and integrated into local society.

WHAT about locals who are jobless?: There are many factors that contribute to unemployment among Malaysians. Blaming refugees and migrants of stealing jobs is simplistic and xenophobic. Refugees whom I’ve met said they were willing to take up 3D (dirty, dangerous and demeaning) jobs.

In fact, refugees are already working in informal sectors. It’s a matter of legalising for better regulation and protection. Read more