‘Back Bills to protect kids’

GOVERNMENT and Opposition lawmakers must support amendments to criminalise online sextortion and livestreaming sex involving children, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) said the amendments to the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 will be tabled for second reading in Parliament tomorrow.

“I would like to get support from all MPs. We have to send a strong message that this government does not tolerate these acts,” said Azalina at a briefing session to parliamentarians yesterday.

She said it was important to pass the amendments to beef up the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

“Maybe the children didn’t vote for us to Parliament, but we have an obligation and responsibility towards them,” she added.

Azalina also urged MPs to have faith in the legal system.

“Nobody is going to prosecute anybody for fun,” she said.

She said the present law does not protect victims if the perpetrators were friends or classmates they know, hence the need for the amendments.

“We have to give a clear message that whoever you are, the law is going to be strict and will come down hard on you,” she said.

Amendments to the Sexual Offences Against Children (Amendment) Bill 2023 was among the four Bills tabled for first reading in Parliament yesterday.

The amendments propose that those convicted of livestreaming sex involving children can face a jail term not exceeding 20 years and RM50,000 fine.

Those found guilty of sextortion can be jailed up to 10 years.

The proposed law will replace the term “child pornography” with “child abuse sexual material” in the parent Act.

The court is also empowered to make convicted perpetrators pay compensation to their victims.

In a separate statement, Azalina said amendments to be introduced in the next Parliament sitting would be with regard to the Child Witness Act 2007 (Act 676).

She also urged MPs to support the proposed amendments to Act 676.

“We hope amendments on Act 792 and Act 676 will garner the support of all MPs, senators, the public as well as the authorities.

“The support of every member of society will enable the amendments (to the law) be implemented effectively to protect children in Malaysia,” she added.

Debates on Budget 2023 will continue at the committee stage in Parliament until it’s voted by MPs this afternoon.

From tomorrow, debates involving Government Bills, Private Member’s Bills and other matters will take place in Parliament until April 4.

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