KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — The Dewan Negara today passed the Evidence of Child Witness (Amendment) Bill 2023 to provide more extensive protection to the group in the judicial process.
It was approved with more votes in favour after it was tabled for the third reading by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said after six senators took part in the debate.
Azalina said that the amendment was phase one of more amendments, which will be made to further strengthen the law.
“In a future sitting, we will present phase two of the amendments, especially the legal elements involving ‘collaboration’.
“However, it requires a lot of discussion with stakeholders, such as the Malaysian Bar Council because there are several elements that they need to emphasise if we are making comprehensive amendments,” she said when winding up the debate on the bill.
She said that the amendments were to ensure that the said law, which had not been amended for 16 years, remained relevant and in line with the Child Act 2001.
“The government hopes that by making the criminal justice system in Malaysia more child-friendly, it will encourage reporting by children and their families, where issues such as stigma and a culture of shame can be gradually eradicated,” she said.
The bill, among other things, aims to increase the age limit of children from 16 to 18 years, to include provisions related to special hearings for child witnesses to give evidence, and to prohibit improper questions to child witnesses. — Bernama