Govt holds engagement session on proposed amendments to law relating to sexual offences against children

PUTRAJAYA: Adjusting the age of children to 18 years in related Acts is among the issues discussed in the engagement session for the proposed amendments to the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 (Act 792) and the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 (Act 676).

The engagement session involving Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and stakeholders was held at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC), Kuala Lumpur on Monday (Jan 9).

According to a statement issued by the minister’s office, the engagement session was aimed at obtaining suggestions, views and feedback regarding proposed amendments to Act 792 and Act 676.

"Amendments to the relevant Acts are important to ensure the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in handling cases of sexual offences involving children,” it said.

Also discussed in the engagement session were the challenges faced during the investigation, prosecution, trial and post-trial processes for criminal cases involving child victims and witnesses.

Other issues were the provisions of the new law to curb online sexual exploitation of children, the compensation payment by the accused to the victim, rehabilitation assistance for child victims and witnesses, as well as empowerment of the existing legal companion service.

Also discussed were the acceptance of child witness testimony by the court without corroborative evidence, the existence of elements of strict liability in laws related to child sexual offences in certain circumstances and the authorisation of authorities to extract evidence from digital and communication tools.

It also said the government is committed to the setting up of the Children’s Commission as an independent body that can monitor and safeguard children’s rights in Malaysia.

However, it said the establishment of the commission required the views of various stakeholders and also the drafting of an Act.

"As a short-term solution, the government intends to create the office of Children’s Commissioner under Suhakam (Human Rights Commission),” it added. - Bernama

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