Hannah Yeoh: Ministry looking to amend Child Act to allow automatic registration of sex offenders


KUALA LUMPUR: The Child Act will be amended to ensure a more effective Child Registry that will, among others, provide for automatic registration of child sex offenders in the future.

“Based on our findings, the registry is not comprehensive and checks revealed that it only contains the names of about 300 sexual offenders,” said Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.

She cited delays in getting details of convicted paedophiles from the courts and police as a factor for this.

She said that most of the information on child sex offenders are manually keyed into the courts and police data systems.

“For example, when we get a request from a day care centre to do a background check, we have to write to the courts and police for the information and this takes time,” she said, adding that only eight courts were online.

“We are looking at amending the Child Act to empower the registry and make registration automatic in the future,” Yeoh said when replying to a supplementary question raised by Senator Datuk Ng Chiang Chin in Dewan Negara on Monday (Aug 20).

Yeoh said that lack of budget was also hampering the development of the Child Registry.

She added the issue over the lack of budget had come to the attention of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who heads the ministry.

“The ministry believes that money must be spent on the registry as it involves the nation’s assets – namely our children – who make up 30% of the population,” she added.

Yeoh said the goal is to expand the registry to include the backgrounds of childcare givers, those transporting children as well as tuition teachers.

She added that consideration is also being given to see if those with mental health issues should also be included in the registry.

The Child Registry was set up under the Child Act (Amendment) 2016 to register the names of child sex offenders and their crimes.

Earlier, Yeoh said that her ministry is also looking at amending the Child Care Centre Act 1984.

Presently, she said babysitters taking care of four or more children must register with the Welfare Department.

She said the proposed amendments will ensure that babysitters are better supervised irrespective of the numbers of children under their care.

Yeoh informed the Senate that 1,438 cases of child abuse by babysitters were recorded between 2013 and as of to date.

She added that 27 deaths involving babysitters were recorded between 2013 and as of July this year.

Yeoh said that 29 deaths were recorded involving childcare centres between 2013 and as of June this year.

Yeoh said the deaths occurred in 13 registered childcare centres and 16 unregistered centres.
   

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