Reassess murder charge against 15-year old rape victim - Malaysian Bar

17 Feb 2022 07:01pm
Malaysian Bar president A.G Kalidas
Malaysian Bar president A.G Kalidas

SHAH ALAM - The Malaysian Bar has urged for the charge levelled against the 15-year old rape victim in Kemaman, Terengganu, for the murder of her newborn baby to be reassessed.

Its president A.G Kalidas said the girl was obviously a victim of statutory rape, considering her age and the clearly distressing and harrowing circumstances of the case.

He added that the girl had likely suffered from an appalling mental and emotional state as a result of her ordeal.

The girl, he said may not have fully recovered from the effect of giving birth and therefore, it was critically important for her to be provided with counselling and psychological treatment.

Kalidas said it was worth considering whether this case ought to be taken through the criminal justice process as in certain circumstances, it may not be in the interest of justice to prosecute such cases.

Children who come into conflict with the law may be better served by a process of “diversion” where, instead of being criminalised, they are rehabilitated through a non-criminal correctional and rehabilitative system, he said in a statement.

As a child rights advocate, he said the Bar has constantly made suggestions for the government to implement a system of diversion to avoid children from entering the criminal justice system and consequently marked as criminals for the rest of their lives.

Echoing the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for Women, Children and Social Development (PSSC), Kalidas said the Bar was ready to work with the government and other relevant institutions to ensure children’s rights were protected and provide free legal representation for all children in conflict with the law, without any discrimination.

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This, he said was in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), of which Malaysia is a signatory.

“Article 3 of the UNCRC stipulates that in all actions concerning children, including in courts of law, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

“Children in conflict with the law are uniquely vulnerable due to their tender age and are likely to find the experience of legal proceedings baffling and a source of anxiety,” he said.

In the statement, he also said there was a need for children to be able to participate in proceedings in a meaningful and safe manner, and that they should be given access to justice and support when needed.

He said protections afforded to children under the Child Act 2001, including the treatment of children whilst under detention, should be strictly adhered to by the authorities as every child deserves the right to be heard and to have their best interests taken into consideration throughout their encounters with the law.

The law enforcement officials, he said are expected to fulfil the duties imposed on them by law, with accountability and integrity, at all times, especially when dealing with children.

“The fact is that the National Legal Aid Foundation (YBGK) is already empowered to provide free legal aid to any child coming into conflict with the law.

“However, for the YBGK system to work, the police must continue to play their part in making access to legal representation known to the child and her/his parents or guardians from the moment of arrest or detention.

“Courts must refuse to proceed with any legal proceedings until the child has had the benefit of legal advice and representation. Only then can the words of UNCRC and the Child Act 2001 become truly purposeful,” he said.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the 15-year old rape victim was charged at the magistrate's court in Kemaman, Terengganu with murdering her newborn baby.

The magistrate had denied her bail.

It was reported that the girl who became pregnant after being raped, was arrested when police found the dead body of a newborn baby at a house in Kemaman on Feb 8.

Initial investigations by police revealed that the baby had been stabbed with a sharp object.