Stamping out stalkers and spycams


KUALA LUMPUR: Stalkers and those who place hidden cameras to record their victims can be slapped with a three-year jail term under amendments passed by the Dewan Rakyat.

The punishment comes under a new Section 507A in the Penal Code, which makes both physical and online stalking an offence.

“The new section also includes tracking as an offence,” Ramkarpal Singh said when tabling the amendments yesterday.

“Tracking will mean keeping track of a victim in a non-physical manner through any device, like a hidden camera or GPS tracker,” he said.

The new law will also cover incidents of ah long (loan sharks) keeping track of victims.

He said the new law took into consideration that stalking can even be done online through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, among others.

Under 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, has committed an offence of stalking.

The offence is punishable with a maximum jail term of three years, a fine or both, upon conviction.

Earlier, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said a survey by a local research company and the Women’s Aid Organisation (WOA) showed that stalking was rampant in the country.“Some 36% of Malaysians experienced being stalked and felt fear, 12% were threatened while 17% suffered injuries,” he said.

Ramkarpal, who is in charge of law and institutional reforms, added that 69% of Malaysians agreed that stalking should be a crime.The Dewan Rakyat also passed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to include a new Section 98A to protect victims from suspected stalkers.

“This new section will afford protection against stalkers, especially for women,” he said when tabling the Bill for second reading.

The new law will allow for protection orders against suspected stalkers, including relatives, former spouses or partners.

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

“Last year, a total of 1,008 victims sought protection through WOA, with 88% of them saying they had been stalked before while 60% said they were continuously stalked by the same person,” he said.

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 also be issued against a person who is being investigated for or is charged with stalking.

Those who disobey the protection order can be jailed for not more than a year, fined or both.

Ramkarpal said the amendments to both laws cover offences committed by both sexes.

The amendments were passed through a majority voice vote.

Ramkarpal had previously said the amendments to make stalking an offence were needed to plug the loophole in the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022.

The anti-sexual law deals with the offence in a civil manner where a perpetrator can be ordered to issue a public apology to a victim, including paying compensation.

The anti-sexual harassment law came into effect on Tuesday.

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stalkers , amendments , Dewan Rakyat

   

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