Two new laws for child sexual crimes

23 Mar 2023 06:53pm
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Photo by Bernama
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Live streaming sex and online sexual abuse of children are new offences to be introduced, as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said two new laws will be presented in Parliament on March 29.

She said the law will be included in Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

"There is an increase in online sexual abuse involving children. We also propose to amend the term child pornography, which is an outdated term, to child sexual abuse," she said in a press conference in Parliament today.

She explained, for the offence of live streaming sex, it is directed to those who directly participate, organise, promote, direct the abuse, receive money and so on.

She said the offender will be sentenced to 20 years in prison or a fine of RM50,000.

"Offender for online sexual abuse, which is using sexual images of children to blackmail them into sending more photos or videos, asking for money or sex, will be subject to 10 years in prison," she said.

She added that a collaboration with the Communications and Digital Ministry and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will be done.

"It is to give mandate to internet service providers to detect, block access and report offences to the authorities.

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"Additionally, to address the problem, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF Malaysia) portal will be used for children to report and release their self-produced content," she said.

During the minister's question and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat, she said a total of 5,519 cases were reported under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 between 2018 and January 2023.

She said 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 combat cases of sexual offences involving 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.

Azalina said the government will also amend the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 [Act 676] to provide special hearings.

"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.

"It is also to give authority to the court to prohibit the children from being asked of inappropriate questions to ensure that a child witness can provide evidence in a calm, smooth and comfortable manner," she said.

However, she added legal methods alone were insufficient to adress the issue of sexual crimes against children.

She said all steps taken in the process of criminal justice system for a sexual crime againts children case should be child-friendly.

"This includes from the stage of reporting to the authorities, investigation, to proceeding in court.

"It is important to consider the matter so we can get the best testimony from the child witnesses and also to minimise the trauma and stigma the child will face," she said.