PETALING JAYA: Law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said has proposed for an independent commission to be set up to safeguard the rights and well-being of children.
She said an independent commission would have more power and autonomy, and could act as an oversight body on matters related to education, rights and crimes against children.
Azalina said although such oversight was given to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) children’s commissioner, an independent commission would be more ideal.
“A new, independent commission will help boost understanding and awareness of child rights and crimes against them,” she told reporters at an event in Kota Tinggi, Johor.
She said while the present sexual offences law was good, it must be improved to address possible loopholes.
Azalina said the biggest problem was that child victims often returned to the custody of those abusing them, which then resulted in the withdrawal of cases against the perpetrators.
She said she welcomed plans by the judiciary to elevate the current children’s court heard by the sessions court to a special court.
Last month, women, family and community development minister Nancy Shukri said a proposal to establish a special department or institution for children to look after their welfare and interests had been presented at a Cabinet meeting. She said the ministry was looking into the matter before arriving at a decision.
A group of child advocates and civil society organisations then asked for clarity on the proposal, calling it the “single most important plan” that the government has put forward for the betterment of children in the country.
The group said a key issue will be the extent of the scope and powers of the proposed department.