Azalina says govt coming up with new law for sexual offenders to compensate their child victims
KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Malaysian government will propose a new law to enable the courts to order sexual offenders to pay compensation to their child victims.
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform), said she expects this proposal to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next Monday.
“The other situation is compensation not given when the child gives evidence, goes to court. There are challenges of travelling costs, income, counselling, medical costs, so who pays for all these?” she said during a media engagement session at the Parliament building today.
“You can go to JKM for some assistance, but what we are trying to do now is to make for the courts to give an order for compensation from the perpetrator to pay,” she added, referring to the Social Welfare Department by its Malay initials.
She said the recovery process for a child who is a victim of sexual offences would cost a lot of money.
The compensation order is one of three proposed amendments to the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
The second amendment is to update what “child pornography” entails under Malaysian law; the new term will be “child sexual abuse materials”.
The third proposed amendment is to introduce two new offences of livestreaming sex and sexual extortion of children, which would be punishable with imprisonment.
The government is also planning to table a separate Bill next Monday to amend the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007.
The planned three amendments to the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 are: To redefine the term “child witness” to refer to those below the age of 18 instead of the current definition of below the age of 16; to give the court the power to stop lawyers from asking improper questions to children who are testifying in court, and to allow for the pre-recording of a video of a child’s entire court testimony which would enable the child to not go to court for the trial.
All these proposed amendments are aimed at strengthening the protection of children in Malaysia amid growing online risks of sexual offences against them, while also making the criminal justice system more child-friendly and to minimise trauma faced by children.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.