SOP launched to help child victims of sexual offenders

Azalina-Othmanuh31

PUTRAJAYA: A standard operating procedure (SOP) was launched today to help child victims of sexual offenders understand how their cases are managed.

Azalina Othman Said, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who introduced the SOP, said it would enable victims to understand the procedures for witness testimony in the Special Court for Sexual Crimes Against Children, which began operations in June.

She said the witness procedure in the Special Court differed from that in normal courts.

“Total protection is provided to the victims giving evidence, especially against the accused.

“These guidelines are a positive step taken to ensure crimes against children are dealt with efficiently,” she said at the launch of the SOP at the Palace of Justice, where the Special Court is housed.

Azalina said the integrated guidelines were the first created for all agencies involved in handling sexual crimes against children.

“The involvement of various agencies and NGOs in creating these guidelines underlined the solid support of everyone in providing the best protection to children who are our nation’s future assets,” she said.

The 127-page SOP booklet is compiled under four main categories: the taking and investigation of reports, trial proceedings, dealing with child victims/witnesses, and protection and support services. For the purpose of the SOP, children are classified as those below age 18.

Azalina said the SOP would ensure all child sexual offences cases would be handled correctly and effectively.

“Trial proceedings in the Special Court must be conducted in an environment comfortable to children without sacrificing justice, and the hearings are held behind closed doors,” she said.

She added that in the past three months, 84% of 303 cases filed at the Special Court had been disposed of, which showed that its establishment was a good move to settle child sexual offences cases.