PUTRAJAYA, March 26 — Parents, schools and daycare centres are strongly encouraged to use a new registry for perpetrators of child sexual crimes to screen people who could care for their children.
Women, Community and Family Development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh said the registry will come into effect next Monday (April 1) and will contain the names of some 3,000 reported offenders from 2017 until 18 February this year.
“Those who want to send their children to daycares, or schools looking to hire new teachers, simply have to provide the individual’s IC number to the Social Welfare Department,” she said during the registry’s launch at the ministry complex.
Applicants who want to verify if the individual has any sexual offense against children will first need to fill in a form and state their relation to the individual, before they can check.
“If the check is done at the department’s state office, it will produce results instantly. However to make things easier you can also check it at the department district office, but it will take five working days to produce the results.
“If the individual in question has no offences, a letter will be issued on the same day stating to that effect. But if he or she has a record, the department has to conduct further checks to verify if he or she has an ongoing appeal in court over their conviction,” Yeoh said.
She said the registry is part of a system to assist parents and those working in children-based industries to help filter out repeat offenders from coming into contact with potential victims.
“In light of the many sex crimes against children, this is the first phase of the system. The next phase will see a tightening of related laws including the Children Act 2001, to further help children,” Yeoh said.
But she cautioned applicants to always remain vigilant even if the individual has no record of child sex crimes.
“It appears a vast majority of those on the registry are first-time offenders. For example, 314 people were charged in 2017, but only 14 of them are repeat offenders. Likewise last year 639 people were charged, and only 34 of them are repeat offenders,” Yeoh said.
When asked if the list of offenders will be made public, she said it is not yet time as this requires further discussions with other ministries, as well as the police and courts.
“Therefore I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this and encourage parents, schools, daycare centres, or even religious institutions including Sunday schools and tahfiz schools, to check someone’s background before allowing them to work closely with children,” Yeoh said.
The ministry is considering making it compulsory for parents and schools to apply for a background check of individuals, but she said this will take some time to come into effect.
“That requires amending laws, but as the list of names grows daily, we can only encourage the public to check backgrounds as a precaution.
“Our message to offenders is this; we now have a database, and you will no longer be able to jump here and there after committing such acts. We are watching you,” Yeoh said.
The launch was also attended by Women, Community and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and the police Criminal Investigation Department deputy director DCP Datuk Salehuddin Abd Rahman.