Online and physical stalking is now a crime

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has passed amendments to the Penal Code which makes it a crime to stalk victims – both physically and online.

The House passed an amendment to create a new Section 507A under the Penal Code which makes physical and online stalking an offence.

"The new section also includes tracking as an offence under stalking.

"Tracking will also mean keeping track of a victim in a non physical manner through any devices, for example by a hidden camera or GPS tracker," Ramkarpal Singh said on Wednesday (March 29) when tabling amendments to the Penal Code in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday. (March 29).

He said that a recent survey showed that stalking was rampant in the country with 36% of Malaysians having experienced being stalked and felt fear.

Under the new Section 507A, whoever repeatedly by any act of harassment, intending to cause, or knowing or ought to know that the act is likely to cause, distress, fear or alarm to any person of the person's safety, commits an offence of stalking.

The offence is punishable with a maximum jail term of not exceeding three years, a fine or both upon conviction.

Also tabled by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department were amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to create a new Section 98A.

Ramkarpal, who is in charge of law and institutional reforms, said that the new law will provide victims protection against stalkers.

At present, he said that a protection order is only available to divorced couples.

He said the new law will offer a protection order against total strangers who have stalkers including relatives, former spouse or partner.

Under the section, a victim or through a representative, can make an ex parte application to the court for the protection order.

The order can be issued against a person who is being investigated for or is charged with stalking.

Those who flout the protection order can face a jail term of not exceeding one year, fine or both.

Ramkarpal said that the amendments of both laws covers offences committed by both sexes.

The amendments were passed by Dewan Rakyat through a majority voice vote.

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