KUALA LUMPUR: New laws have been tabled in the Parliament to abolish the caning of child offenders and to increase punishment for those who “abuse, neglect, and oppress” children.
Under amendments to the Child Act 2001, which were tabled by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim (pic) on Wednesday, several new forms of protection have been included for children.
These include protection against trafficking for immoral purposes, physical or emotional injury, exploitative acts such as begging and street-hawking, and improper supervision of a child.
The new laws also contain further restrictions on media reporting on children suspected of committing offences.
The 65-page bill is expected to be passed in the current Dewan Rakyat sitting, which ends on Thursday.
Proposals in the bill include setting up a National Council for Children to better deal with issues relating to the care, protection, rehabilitation, development, and participation of children.
The bill also seeks to impose harsher penalties for offences under Section 31 of the Act, which includes abusing, neglecting and oppressing a child.
“We are proposing that the fine for such offences be increased to RM50,000 and jail sentence increased to a maximum of 20 years.
“This is to serve as deterrent to the abuse and neglect of children by parents or guardians,” Rohani told reporters.
Currently, the fine for offences under Section 31 is RM20,000 with a jail sentence of no more than 10 years.
Rohani said another highlight of the amended Act would be the placement of children in family-based care, adding that an order of placement under the Welfare Department should only be used as a last resort.
“For example, if a child is abused by his parents, they will be placed under the custody of uncles or aunties who are safe for the child,” she said.
The amendment also allows the court to impose community service order (CSO) for children who commit criminal offences and parents who are guilty of abusing or neglecting their child.
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