Special court to deal with human-trafficking cases soon

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will have a special court to deal with human-trafficking cases this year, said Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif (pic).

He said like other special courts in the country, this will start as a pilot project in the Klang Valley, before more courts are set up at other locations.

The Chief Justice said this in his speech when opening the 2018 Judicial Year here yesterday.

“The success of the existing special courts in reducing specific cases has prompted the judiciary to consider setting up other special courts to tackle the rising number of cases in specialised areas, which are technical in nature,” he said.

Md Raus said later at a press conference that he is aiming for the first special court to be opened around May or June this year.

The first court will be set up in Klang, which will be followed in stages in Ipoh, Muar, Melaka, Kota Kinabalu and Balik Pulau in Penang.

Based on statistics, there is a sudden rise in human-trafficking cases.

“That’s why we want specialised courts so that the judge in question can concentrate on these cases. In our experience, special courts do better than normal courts,” said Md Raus.

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia will set up a special court for human-trafficking cases.

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this was part of Malaysia’s efforts to get into the top-ranked Tier 1 list of countries in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) annual report by 2020.

In the 2017 TiP report, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2 from being on the watchlist of Tier 2.

In April last year, Malaysia had created a special sessions court for cases involving sexual crimes against minors – the first of its kind in South-East Asia.

Md Raus said in its first year of operation, the court succeeded in clearing 287 out of 357 cases, or 80.4%.

Unlike previous years, the opening of the legal year event this time only featured the Chief Justice’s speech, in what was described as a change in format by Md Raus.

Traditionally, the opening of the legal year would comprise speeches from the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Bar president.

Md Raus said the Bar was not allowed to speak at the event because it insisted on speaking about his and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin’s appointments – a matter which is currently being challenged in the Federal Court.

“This is an event organised by the judiciary. For example, if you invite people to your house for dinner, and then the guest criticises the host... that shouldn’t happen,” said Md Raus.

The event was also renamed from the “Opening of the Legal Year” to the “Opening of the Judicial Year”.

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