PETALING JAYA, May 21 — The battle against child sex offenders in the country still faces a major stumbling block due to the absence of a national sex offenders registry.
The registry system, which exists in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, is a database used by the respective governments to track the activities of convicted sex offenders.
The government had earlier this year announced that an online version of such a registry would be set up later this year to facilitate checks by parents, guardians and employers. But until it is set up, sex offenders will continue to roam free.
Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) principal assistant director ACP Ong Chin Lan said the absence of the registry in Malaysia makes it easier for offenders to evade detection.
Referring to the case of convicted paedophile Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, Ong said the absence of a registry allowed him to roam freely without being closely monitored.
“There is no authority for us to track him, because technically, he committed an offence not recognised by our laws,” she said.
Nur Fitri, 23, who served nine months in prison in England for possession of child pornography, is currently a free man here.
Ong said the Penal Code also lacked specific sections to punish those in possession of child pornography.
“Under the Penal Code, someone who is caught in possession of child pornography is subjected to punishment similar to those caught with such material featuring images of adults. The punishment here is still considered lenient, when compared to other countries that have specific provisions to prosecute child related offences,” she said.
Under Section 292 of the Penal Code, those caught in possession of obscene material can be jailed up to three years, fined, or both.
“With the introduction of a registry, tracking and monitoring of these offenders would be easier and more stringent. We welcome the move to set the registry but it has to be implemented soon.”
Asked how cyber monitoring under the new Child Cyber Sexual Investigations unit was carried out, Ong said police would cooperate with online security teams and monitor social media platforms used by suspected paedophiles.
“For instance, local police would be alerted when the security team from Skype receives user-generated reports of inappropriate content being exchanged among users.”
If the reports concerned Malaysian children, Ong said police would then work with the concerned security team to track down the sender and receiver of the material, before investigating further.
“There has been information from social sites like Facebook that have reached us. They are also committed in weeding out child sex offenders on social media.
Paedophiles caught in possession of child pornography often claim the material was for personal viewing.
“We are trying to establish if those caught in possession of child pornography were distributing them to users around the world,” said Ong.
“Most children today have their personal computers inside their rooms, where they go about discovering the Internet, away from the eyes and supervision of their parents.
“It would be better if the computer was placed in a communal room in the presence of the whole family, to ensure their children are surfing the Internet safely,” she said.