Groups hail move to protect and end violence against children

PETALING JAYA: The decision to appoint a Commissioner for Children is a right move towards elevating the rights and protection of children, say pro-children rights groups.

Be My Protector engagement and operations director Roland Edward welcomed the decision, saying the upcoming formation of a Child’s Commission was something that many groups and advocates had been fighting for.

“In a sense, it is a much needed renovation, update, and upgrade, which we are excited for, but at the same time we hope that the right people with the right experience and credentials will take the position of the Commissioner for Children,” he said when contacted.

Voice of the Children chairperson Sharmila Sekaran applauded the move, saying that the way the country dealt with children today would determine their outcome (into adulthood), which in turn would determine the outcome of society and the nation.

“Together with the relevant agencies, if properly set up and staffed, it will give greater awareness, consideration and standing to issues surrounding children and will only serve to enhance Malaysia’s standing and competitiveness globally moving forward,” she said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that the Cabinet had agreed to appoint a Commissioner for Children under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

He said the commissioner would be tasked with looking into matters of abandonment, abuse, social issues, and other problems involving children.

While the Prime Minister did not elaborate, it is understood that the appointment was a short-term measure before a Children’s Commission can be set up.

Sharmila said such a priority for children would put the sustainability of the nation at the forefront and tie in with many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

However, she wants to see all the terms of reference, budget, and human resource allocation for the commissioner.

Childline Foundation project director Datin Wong Poai Hong said that the move was exactly what the country needed to focus on ending all violence against children by 2030 and to meet the SDGs, which Malaysia has agreed to uphold.

“It is also in line with the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Malaysia acceded to in 1995.

“However, it remains to be seen if we can get the right people with the proper training and experience in child rights and protection, as well as those who are strong advocates for children,” said Wong.

Suriana Welfare Society chairman Dr James Nayagam praised the move by the Cabinet and looked forward to seeing how the commissioner would address issues related to children.

He suggested that the commissioner be empowered to make decisions and also take action against any parties if there were any abuses.

“We do not want it to merely have an advisory role.

“If there are any abuses, it should be able to take its own action against individuals or even government agencies,” he said.

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