Children’s Commissioner: AGC must explain call to dismiss Ipoh tahfiz school sex abuse case

Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal from Suhakam reminded the AGC in a statement that the incident was of great public interest, and called on Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to clarify why he decided against pressing charges. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal from Suhakam reminded the AGC in a statement that the incident was of great public interest, and called on Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to clarify why he decided against pressing charges. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — The country’s Children’s Commssioner has urged the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to explain the decision to dismiss the case of an alleged sexual assault that took place at a tahfiz school in Ipoh, Perak.

Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) reminded the AGC in a statement that the incident was of great public interest, and called on Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to clarify why he decided against pressing charges.

“In the public interest matter of the alleged sexual abuse against a minor at a tahfiz school in Manjoi, Ipoh, Suhakam urges the Attorney General of Malaysia to explain without delay the reason for the decision to drop criminal charges,” she said.

“Given the grievous nature of the alleged offences, the Children’s Commissioner believes that the mother of the victim is fully within her rights to commence legal action against the tahfiz school,” she added.

On Monday, the Magistrate’s Court in Ipoh made an unexpected ruling to dismiss the case of alleged sexual abuse against a minor at a tahfiz school in Manjoi, Ipoh, merely two months after recognising that an offence did take place.

Magistrate Mohammad Afifi Mohammad Deen said the ruling followed a letter from the Perak State Legal Adviser’s Office containing a directive by Thomas, who reportedly evoked Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to justify the decision to dismiss the case.

In a stern reminder directed at the AGC, Suhakam said the rule of law should apply fully to children as it does to adults, and that all children have a right to equal protection under the law.

“The Children’s Commissioner underlines that the concept of dignity requires that every child

is recognised, respected and protected as a rights holder,” Noor Aziah said.

“And as a unique and valuable human being with an individual personality, distinct needs, interests and privacy and is determined that children who are victimised in crimes of such magnitude receive justice in full.”

Suhakam also directed its criticism at the media, calling for more sensitivity over its coverage of sexual abuse cases.

“The Children’s Commissioner cautions the media that in reporting a case of this nature the name of the mother of the child victim must not be mentioned as it may lead to the identification of the victim,” said the statement.

“Accordingly, the Children’s Commissioner advises the media to adopt appropriate and ethical rules of conduct to protect the victim’s identity.”

Section 15 of the Child Act 2001 prohibits the identity of sexual abuse victims to be revealed.

On August 7, the court had acknowledged that a violation had taken place based on the complaint made by the victim’s mother on the same day.

The case at the time was mentioned under Section 377E and Section 14(a) of the more recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, which handles physical sexual assault on a child. 

The court then instructed the Deputy Public Prosecutor to attend Monday’s proceeding to explain why the investigation paper was closed previously with no suspects identified, despite the victim being able to recognise the suspects. 

The alleged offence took place three years ago in Maahad Tahfiz al Barakah, a tahfiz school teaching Quran memorisation, then owned by popular preacher Datuk Kazim Elias.

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