5,519 reported cases of sexual crimes against children

23 Mar 2023 02:22pm
Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Bernama PIC
Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Bernama PIC

KUALA LUMPUR - A total of 5,519 cases were reported under Act 792 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 between 2018 and January 2023.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said stated out of the total, 4,713 cases (85.4 per cent) were solved and 3,060 cases (55.4 per cent) saw court charges being filed.

"The government is always committed to curbing criminal sexual acts towards children.

"Overall, the enactment of Act 792 is a very good step in aiding the police towards carrying out investigations and the prosecution in framing specific charges under Act 792 compared to general criminal laws that apply to adults such as the Penal Code and other related laws," she said in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday.

She said this when answering Young Syefura Othman's (PH-Bentong) question on whether the government would state the amount of sexual crimes towards children reported, prosecuted and resolved since Act 792 was enforced.

She said the government was in the process of making a few amendments to Act 792 to improve the current provisions.

She explained the government would amend the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 (Act 676) to provide a special hearing.

"It is another mechanism where the witness statement of children could be taken in the form of a video recording to ensure the child does not need to attend for the mention.

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"It also empowers the court to prohibit inappropriate questions being asked towards children to ensure that a child witness could provide the evidence calmly, fluently and comfortably," she said.

However, she added the legal means alone were not enough to overcome the issue of sexual crimes against children.

She explained all measures taken in the process of the criminal justice system for sexual crimes against children cases must be child-friendly.

"This includes from the reporting stage towards authorities, investigations all the way to the court proceedings.

"This matter is important to ensure the best statement could be received from the children and it could reduce the trauma and stigma that would be faced by the victims," she said.

She said the unity government will continue to be committed in overcoming the issue holistically to protect them.

Azalina in her press conference stated to overcome the threats in line with technology, the government will introduce new offences namely Live Sex and Sexual Extortion in the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

She explained the offence for Live Sex falls towards those who directly participate, organise, promote, abuse, receive money and such.

"For this offence the actions taken would be a 20-year prison sentence or an RM50,000 fine.

"For sexual extortion which is the usage of sexual images of children as blackmail or threat to receive more photos, videos, money, or have sex with the perpetrator will be sentenced to 10 years in prison," she said.

She added the cooperation with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will be done.

"It is to provide a mandate for internet service providers to detect, block access and report offences to authorities.

"Another means of overcoming the issue is to encourage the use of the Malaysian Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) portal for children to report and produce their own content," she said.

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