Malaysian syariah judiciary drafting guidelines on young offenders

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Syariah Judiciary (JKSM) is drafting guidelines on young syariah offenders to ensure their welfare.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said it would include protecting their rights during the process of arrest, investigation, prosecution and after sentencing.

"These guidelines will be handed over to the State Syariah Courts to be enforced through orders by the Chief Syarie Judge in the respective states,” he said during the question and answer session in the Dewan Negara on Tuesday (Aug 9).

He was responding to a question from Senator Fadhlina Sidek who wanted to know the government's position on the establishment of a Special Committee for Children in the Syariah Court to protect the rights and interests of children in the court.

Ahmad Marzuk said the government welcomed the proposal to establish the Special Committee for Children in the Syariah Court.

The government, he said, had also established a Special Cabinet Committee on Protecting the Vulnerable Groups, especially children, people with disabilities (OKU), women and senior citizens.

To a supplementary question from Fadhlina on flogging as punishment for young offenders, Ahmad Marzuk said Section 125 of the Federal Territories Syaria Criminal Procedure Act 1997, did not mention clearly on the exception of flogging for children found guilty of syaria crimes.

However, he said, Section 128 of the same law, stated alternative punishment for young offenders (those under 16 years-old) which included rehabilitative measures, such as appropriate reprimands by the court and good behaviour bonds under the supervision of parents.

"In fact, the Syarie Judges have been exposed on the ways to decide the appropriate punishment for children. JKSM is also in the process of establishing guidelines on handling offenders under that category.

"Although there is no clear exception to whipping punishment, but the Syarie Judges are given options for punishments, such as reprimand and imposing rehabilitative punishments that is appropriate for the children,” he added. - Bernama

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