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Is it so hard to make a sex offenders list?

 | February 11, 2017

How many more rapes will it take before the government stops dragging its feet?

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What is causing the delay in setting up a sex offenders registry?

In 2007, the nation was shocked by the rape and murder of eight-year-old Nurin Jazlin, whose body was stuffed into a gym holdall and her genitals stuffed with a brinjal and a cucumber. Her rapist and killer is still at large.

In 2015, Mara scholar Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin was convicted in Britain for the possession and distribution of 30,000 pornographic images of children. Mara leaders called for compassion towards him. They said he should be given a second chance to resume his education and that he could do it in Malaysia.

Last year, Richard Huckle, who had been given unlimited access to young children in Kuala Lumpur, received a life sentence for paedophilia and rape, again in Britain.

And now a serial rapist who spent 24 years in a Canadian prison is back in Malaysia. A court had found Selva Kumar Subbiah guilty of sexual and other types of assault as well as extortion. He was denied parole in 2014 as he was considered likely to commit similar offences again.

FMT readers must have been filled with dread when they saw the photo of a relaxed Selva accompanied by a smiling person in uniform. They looked like two long lost friends.

Some members of the public want Selva to be jailed in Malaysia. Others want him banished from the country. A few would like him to be castrated.

Malaysians are gripped with fear because he is able to move freely around the country. That is a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the nation’s laws or their enforcement.

Brian Thomas, a policeman who helped catch Selva, told the crime blog Cancrime that Selva would continue to rape women if he were free in Malaysia or anywhere else.

Why is it so difficult to come up with a sex offenders register?

In May 2015, the IGP told reporters that a sex offenders’ registry was redundant. “We already have a criminal registry,” he said. “It serves the same purpose. If we set up another registry for those involved in sexual crimes, there’ll be an overlap.”

Why then do ministers keep demanding this registry? Don’t they trust the IGP’s judgement?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri made such a demand in 2015, following the Nur Fitri scandal and a spate of statutory rapes.

Last year, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said the passing of amendments to the Child Act would facilitate the setting up of the registry.

Just before Selva returned to Malaysia, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamad repeated the call for a sex offenders’ register and said, “There is supposed to be legislation to publicly name sexual offenders, like in the United Kingdom, but currently we do not have that.

“But what we have now is a list of people that is monitored by the police.”

One cynic said, “Police monitoring? The murderer, Sirul Azhar Umar, managed to flee to Australia. Wasn’t he being monitored by the police?”

It is now 10 years since Nurin Jazlin’s gruesome rape and murder. Why is the government dragging its feet over the sex offenders’ register? How many more rapes will it take before it acts?

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist

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