Setting up of Children’s Commission will further improve protection of children, says Azalina

PETALING JAYA: The protection of children in the country will be further strengthened with the setting up of a Children’s Commission, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic).

The announcement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) comes following calls for swift action against perpetrators of recent crimes against children.

“The government is always concerned with regards to welfare, well-being and protection.

“The issue of abuse, exploitation, sexual crimes and molestation of basic rights of children requires a swift response by the government,” Azalina said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 19).

She thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Cabinet for deciding to set up an independent commission to better protect children in the country.

A group comprising civil society organisations and individuals had recently made calls for greater protection for children following the two reported deaths involving children believed to have been abused.

The first case involved the death of a four-year-old boy in Johor who died in late December due to serious injuries allegedly from physical abuse by five of his older sister’s friends.

The child was placed under the care of his biological sister as his parents were in prison for drug offences.

On Jan 6, a six-year-old disabled girl in Sarawak was allegedly abused, then killed and then stuffed in a sack before being thrown in the bushes.

The alleged perpetrator was said to be the mother’s boyfriend.

Initially available information suggested that the mother was also abused or threatened by the same man.

Besides creating better awareness among the public and government on child protection, Azalina said the commission will also advise and assist the government in drafting laws related to the issue.

She said this will include advice on administrative directives, procedures and action when dealing with cases involving the protection of children.

“The commission will also be empowered to hold inquiries and conduct investigations with regard to complaints of abuse of children’s rights,” she said, adding the commission will also advise the government on the Conversation of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international instruments.

Azalina noted that a Children’s Commissioner will also be appointed to head the commission.

The Commissioner, she added, will also head efforts to set up the commission including the drafting of laws specifically related to the commission.

She added that the name of the Commissioner will be announced later after receiving consent from the King.