KUALA LUMPUR: Proposed amendments to the law will make stalking a crime punishable by up to three years in jail and fines.
The move to make stalking a crime in Malaysia comes after amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) were tabled for its first reading in Parliament on Thursday (Aug 4).
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Under the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2022, a new Section 507A will be created for the crime of stalking.
Under the provision, a person is deemed to have committed stalking if the individual repeatedly by any act of harassment, intends to cause or knowing or ought to know, that such an act causes distress, fear or alarm to any person with regard to their safety.
Those convicted of the offence may be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than three years, a fine or both.
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Also proposed were amendments under the CPC to allow the courts to issue an order against a suspected offender under investigation to protect victims from being further harassed.
The new Section 98A under the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act 2022 allows victims, their lawyers or guardian of a child or incapacitated adult to apply for the court's protection ex parte.
Once the order is issued, the suspected offender will be prohibited or restrained "from going near" the victim or persons related or associated with the victim.
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The court will be empowered to fix the distance under the restraining order at which a suspected offender is barred from going near the victim or persons related or associated with the victim.
A failure to comply with the court's restraining order could see the suspected stalker ending up spending up to a year in jail or slapped with a fine, or both.
Both Bills were tabled by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Parliament and Law Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.
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She informed the House that both Bills would be read and passed at the next Parliament meeting later in October this year.
In 2019, the government formed an anti stalking committee to look at amendments to the law to make stalking a crime in Malaysia.
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Based on a study by the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) in 2020 revealed that a third of Malaysians have experienced acts associated with stalking.
According to their survey titled "Understanding Malaysians' Experiences of Stalking", involving 1,008 Malaysians, it reported that one-third had experienced stalking that instilled fear; 17% had experienced stalking resulting in harm and 12% were stalked and threatened with harm.