KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments to the Child Act 2001 in 2016 has made it a comprehensive law to protect children from abuse nationwide, the Dewan Rakyat heard today.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said amendments to the Act were made following consultation with stakeholders like non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
She said that the Act was also suitable and had taken into account the sensitivities in the country.
“The amendments to the act were quite comprehensive as we took into account views of various quarters, including studies from abroad, and methodology to curb abuse and tackle the issue more effectively.
“The amendment is a proactive step by the government, through the ministry, to give focus on caring and protecting children in the country,” she said during question and answer session in Dewan Rakyat today.
She was answering a supplementary question from Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (Independent-Bandar Tun Razak), who had sought clarification on whether the ministry would carry out analysis on laws in foreign countries like in Hong Kong and Singapore that seeks to stamp out child abuse and sexual molestation.
Answering the main question from Khalid, Azizah said that the government had created a new Act in the form of Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 in order to counter sexual offences not covered under the Child Act 2001.
She said that the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 was also amended in 2015 to protect victims of human trafficking and smuggling of immigrants in a more comprehensive manner.
Among the amendments to the Child Act 2001 are increasing the penalties for offences like mistreatment, neglect, abandonment or exposing the child (to harm), which is a maximum jail term and fine.
She said that the national council for children and welfare team for children at the district level were also carried out.
“The Child Registry is also widened to cover list of offenders linked to crimes involving children.
“Aside from that, the Community Service Order (CSO) as mandatory punishment for offenders who are parents or guardians found guilty has also been introduced,” she said.
In answering a question from Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid (BN-Kota Tinggi), Azizah said that the ministry - with cooperation from the police - have come up with a list of convicted offenders into the Child Registry.
“With this, employers who wish to appoint (hire) someone into their institution which involves children - such as schools and kindergartens - can submit the names for to the Welfare Department director-general for checks.
“This is to ensure those who are victimisers or offenders are not appointed and prevent the recurrence of abuse,” she said.
Azizah added that the ministry had conducted various programmes to raise public awareness on the Child Act nationwide.
Reports by Mohd Anwar Patho Rohman; Meor Riduwan Meor Ahmad; Adib Povera; Mohd Iskandar Ibrahim; Hidir Reduan; Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi and Ahmad Suhael Adnan