KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — The first draft of the Child Sexual Crime Bill is ready and expected to be presented to the Cabinet for policy drafting by next week.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, who chaired the task force for sexual crimes against children at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration yesterday, said the Bill would incorporate a change in the definition of sexual crime to include crimes committed online.
The Bill, if passed, would be an extension to the Child Act (Amendment) 2016 and the Penal Code.
“We want to bring it to Parliament this month but we need views and to carry out discussion with the committee and all ministries at the policy level,” she said.
Azalina said the Bill would see the change in definition of online and offline sexual crime.
“We will also see anti-grooming laws to prevent predators from using social media to lure young children,” she said.
Azalina said the committee was of the opinion child sexual cases need to be solved immediately.
“It is best if a case is solved within a year after a report is made,” she said.
“We want a shorter time-frame for the case to be settled in court.”
She also called for the setting up of a special court to hear such cases to ensure a quick solution.
“Presently, such cases are brought to the criminal court, but they get postponed and victims have to wait between five to eight years,” she said.
“When it comes to evidence, they (children) may want to forget and there may be intention to withdraw (the case) when it is delayed in court.”
Azalina said changes in the law were important to ensure it was relevant with current times.
“We have to look at certain acts that are happening now, like online sexual grooming. This is a new situation compared to 10 years ago,” she said.
Online sexual grooming is where predators communicate with young children on social media, develop their trust and build a relationship with them, subsequently acting out on their intentions.
“Anti-grooming law is very important. The existence of the Dark Net has to be accepted,” she said.
“The Act may not be adequate to cover all aspects, but we have to work on gender policies and preventive action with the relevant ministries.”
Azalina said the task force was also looking into child pornography.
“We are looking into sexual harassment against children and want a preventive Act to tell perpetrators certain acts are not welcome in this country.”
She said the public and lawmakers must also show their support to changes in the law.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how the law is drafted. The public must accept certain things cannot be tolerated,” she said.
“The law on its own will be inadequate and has to be supported by change in policies and procedure.”
In June, British paedophile Richard Huckle was handed 23 life sentences after he pleaded guilty to 71 counts of child sex offences.
Huckle, 30, had preyed on vulnerable children from the poor communities in Malaysia while posing as a photographer and a teacher to groom his victims.