Special Select Committee for children demands free legal representation for children in trouble with the law


Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said is also the MP for Pengerang and was often outspoken against the Perikatan Nasional administration of former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. — Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): The Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Women, Children and Social Development (PSSC) today has pushed forward several recommendations when dealing with children who are in conflict with the law.

This comes after a 15-year-old girl — an alleged raped victim — was remanded by police on February 9 for allegedly stabbing her newborn baby to death shortly after delivery.

PSSC Chairperson Datuk Seri Azalina Othman said the main concern for the children are the immediate actions of the agencies involved to remand her under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder without a comprehensive psychological assessment, social welfare report, legal representation or psychological assistance.

“In line with Malaysia’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and in the best interests of the children in Malaysia, the PSSC puts forward the following recommendations.

“That all children in conflict with the law in Malaysia be accorded free legal representation, from the point of detention until the completion of the criminal justice process, to ensure that their rights are adequately and fully protected,” said the former law minister.

She said that the various stakeholders of the criminal justice system, including the Bar Council, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the police and the Chief Registrar’s Office work together towards achieving free representation for all children in conflict with the law in Malaysia.

She also recommended that a comprehensive sex, sexuality and reproductive education be introduced into school curriculums to better protect children against instances of statutory rape, unwanted pregnancies and baby dumping.

Azalina also said that protections accorded to children by the Child Act 2001 should be strictly complied with by all law enforcement agencies and that children investigated under Sections 299 to 318 of the Penal Code be placed under the supervision of a Protector and given mandatory psychological support.

Touching on the 15-year-old’s case, Azalina said the case should be classified under Section 309A of the Penal Code instead of Section 302, changing the charge from murder to neonaticide.

“Unlike murder, infanticide is a bailable offence under the Penal Code; research indicates that neonaticide is usually the result of concealed pregnancy and unassisted delivery,” she said.

On February 9, police in Terengganu detained a 15-year-old girl, an alleged rape victim, after her newborn baby boy was found dead with stab wounds.

Kemaman police chief Supt Hanyan Ramlan said the girl’s family members were not at home during the incident and an initial investigation revealed that the baby was allegedly stabbed by the 15-year-old mother.

“The baby was delivered by a 15-year-old girl at her house, assisted by a friend. The latter then rushed to inform a nearby clinic about the delivery while the teen mother and her baby stayed at home,” he said.

According to Hanyan, clinic personnel found the baby bleeding when they arrived at the scene. The baby was confirmed dead despite being rushed to the clinic and given emergency aid. — Malay Mail