Amendments to law to include 'tracking' as a form of stalking, says Azalina

KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments to the law will make not only physically stalking a person but "tracking" also an offence, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

"The whole idea with technology is that stalking is no longer physical anymore.

"We have to do something with such technology," the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law and institutional reforms told reporters at a press conference on Thursday (March 16).

She said that "tracking" could be done without consent through an individual's mobile phone.

She said details of the amendments would be made clearer by her deputy Ramkarpal Singh when the Bills came up for second reading in Dewan Rakyat.

Earlier, Azalina tabled Bills to amend the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The amendments would see new Section 507A created under the Penal Code.

The section states that a person was deemed to have committed stalking if the individual repeatedly, by any act of harassment, intends to cause - or ought to know that such an act causes - distress, fear or alarm to any person with regard to their safety.

It also defined stalking to include following or tracking a person in any manner or means.

This includes communicating, loitering at the place of residence or business of a person, and giving or sending anything in any manner or means to that individual.

Those convicted for the offence could face a jail term not exceeding three years, a fine or both.

Also amended is Section 98A under the CPC which will empower the court to issue a protection order against a person who was being investigated for, or was charged with, an offence of stalking under the new Section 507A.

The protection order could be made by the victim or through the victim's lawyer or guardian.

The suspect, who contravenes the order, could face one-year imprisonment, fine or both.

On Aug 4 last year, the previous administration tabled Bills to amend the Penal Code and the CPC to fill the lacuna in the anti-sexual harassment law which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat in July of the same year.

The anti-sexual harassment law dealt with offence in a civil manner, requiring further amendments to criminalise stalking as an offence.

Under the sexual harassment law, a victim could request a public apology and paid compensation.

However, the Bills were not tabled in Dewan Negara as Parliament was dissolved on Oct 10 to pave the way for the 15th General Election (GE15).

Meanwhile, Azalina Informed Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Alice Lau that the Bills will be read for the second time during the current meeting.

The Dewan Rakyat meeting began on Feb 13 and will end this April 4.

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