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Published: Sunday January 19, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday January 19, 2014 MYT 8:52:53 AM

Bar Council: Laws empowering separation of children and parents must have safeguards

PETALING JAYA: Harsh, unreasonable and disproportionate to the allegation.

That is the reaction of lawyers to the detention and remand of a Malaysian couple since Dec 18, pending investigations by Swedish authorities, after they were separated from their children for allegedly hitting their son on the hand when he did not perform his prayers.

Bar Council president Christopher Leong said that any law which seeks to empower state authorities to separate children from their parents must have stringent safeguards.

“The further report that under Swedish law, which stipulates that the children and parents would not be reunited automatically even where the allegations against the parents are unfounded, or where the parents are eventually found innocent of the charge, but would require an application by the parents, does not sound right,” he said.

Although one may oppose the use of corporal punishment on children, measures taken to address this must not do emotional and psychological damage to them or adversely affect the family unit, he added.

He hoped that the Malaysian embassy in Sweden would provide “its best assistance” to the parents and children.

Co-chair of the Bar Council’s human rights committee Andrew Khoo acknowledged that Sweden has a different cultural approach to disciplining children, but added:

“The authorities should look at the best interest of the children. Is it good for them to be separated from their parents? It might result in more harm than good.”

Criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad questioned whether remanding the parents was in the interest of their children.

“The authorities must consider whether the parents knew of the law. While ignorance of the law is not an excuse, in a non-serious case, the parents ought to be given a chance,” he said.

Amer called on the Swedish authorities to take into account the facts and circumstances of the case, which he said revolved around religious issues and the children’s emotional state.

“They must think of the children’s emotional distress of being separated from their parents and staying with a famiy from a different cultural and religious background,” he said.

“It appears that the children are not happy with the action taken by the Swedish authorities. So is this in the interest of the children?”

Related stories:

Khairy calls for quick resolution to case in Sweden

Islam allows light caning of errant children

Parents advised against beating their children

Muslims in Sweden volunteer to care for kids

Tags / Keywords: Courts Crime, human rights lawyers, corporal punishment, Sweden, Malaysia


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