Amid rise in sexual crimes against kids, MCA urges update, public access to offenders’ registry

Chan said that such a registry should be made easily available online to all members of the public, searchable by name, year or area code, and include all types of sex crime offenders, not just paedophiles. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Chan said that such a registry should be made easily available online to all members of the public, searchable by name, year or area code, and include all types of sex crime offenders, not just paedophiles. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — MCA today called for an improved National Sex Offenders Registry, saying the current database has not been updated and its access to the public is limited.

The Opposition party’s spokesman Chan Quin Er said an updated registry is imperative in the wake of increased reports of sexual crimes against children in Perlis as disclosed by the state police chief yesterday.

“Last year, Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh announced that the Ministry of Women, Community and Family Development has come up with a child sex offender registry which will be up and running by April 1, 2019. While this move is applauded, and such effort is certainly praiseworthy, this registry service has several major drawbacks.

“It is not easily accessible to the public. People using the system will have to go to Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat’s (JKM) state office (checks at the district office requires five days for the results to come back), and have to provide the IC of the person in question as well as give a valid reason why he or she is consulting the registry,” Chan said in a statement.

She said the layers of red tape created hurdles in the dissemination of such information to parents and future employers for societal safeguards for young children.

She also said the current system only has information from 2017 onwards and is unclear on cases involving Malaysians abroad, citing the case of a promising scholar who was convicted of owning child pornography in the UK and who has since returned home where he faces no penalties.

“Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin was convicted in the United Kingdom for possession of child pornography in 2015 and therefore not listed therein.

“It is not clear whether the system addresses those who have been convicted of sex crimes against children abroad. The system does not include those who have been convicted of sex crimes against adults,” Chan said.

She noted that a sexual offenders registry under the Registration of Criminals and Undesirable Persons Act 1969 [Act 7] under the purview of the Home Ministry has been proposed since 2017, but is yet to be formed.

She said that such a registry should be made easily available online to all members of the public, searchable by name, year or area code, and include all types of sex crime offenders, not just paedophiles.

“It is also recommended that the registry covers four types of convictions, namely Malaysians convicted of a sex crime in Malaysia, Malaysians convicted of a sex crime abroad, non-Malaysians convicted of a sex crime in Malaysia and residing in Malaysia and non-Malaysians convicted of a sex crime abroad and residing in Malaysia,” Chan said.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh announced last year that the government will have a new database recording the names of some 3,000 reported sexual predators on children from 2017 until February 18, 2019.

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.

But when asked in March 2019 if the list would be available to the man on the street, Yeoh said the time had not come as further talks with other agencies and the courts were needed to smoothen the process.

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