KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — The government’s official records of convicted child sexual offenders are only from 2017 onwards as they are parked under a new 2017 law, while a math genius who is currently studying in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was convicted abroad in 2015, deputy minister Hannah Yeoh said today.
In a four-part statement, Yeoh explained the facts regarding the records kept by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) under the Child Registry, as well as UKM student Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin’s case.
“(1) In March 2019, the Child Registry maintained by @JKMHQ has been updated to include convictions recorded under the Sexual Offences Against Children (SOAC) Act 2017 which came into force in July 2017. This means we only have records of convictions from 2017 onwards,” the Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister said on her official Twitter account.
“(2) This Child Registry is available for the public to apply to do screening in any JKM offices. This service is free and serves as an available tool (not mandatory yet) for parents and business operators related to children to do screening on potential employees,” she added.
At the March 26 launch of the new database of convicted perpetrators of sexual crimes against children, Yeoh had then said the registry will contain the names of around 3,000 reported offenders from 2017 until 18 February, 2019.
The registry which kicked into effect on April 1, 2019 enables those such as parents, schools, daycare centres, child-related religious institutions to cross-check whether someone working or interacting closely with children has any records of child sexual offences.
To check against the Child Registry, one has to fill up a form and provide the individual’s identity card number and state their relation to the individual, with instant results available at the Social Welfare Department, Yeoh had explained previously.
Yeoh had also then explained that a letter will be issued on the same day if the individual being checked has no recorded offences, while the department would carry out further checks if the individual has a record to determine if there is an ongoing appeal in court against the conviction.
Yeoh then went on to state the facts of Nur Fitri’s case, saying: “(3) In the case of Fitri from UKM, his conviction was recorded in 2015 in UK (two years before SOAC was enacted). He had also served imprisonment, released and returned to Malaysia.”
Yeoh added that the ministry is “currently reviewing the existing laws related to this and we are committed to strengthen protection for our children”.
Nur Fitri, who was studying mathematics at the Imperial College London, was reportedly found to be in possession of over 30,000 videos and photographs of child pornography, including 601 belonging to “Category A” which depicts abuse involving penetrative sexual acts with children.
Nur Fitri was reportedly arrested, charged and convicted in the UK on November 21, 2014, before being sentenced by the UK courts on April 30, 2015 to five years’ imprisonment over offences relating to child pornography.
Local news portals mStar and Free Malaysia Today have this week reported sources within UKM as confirming that Nur Fitri had entered the public university as a masters’ student and is now currently pursuing a PhD there. The news reports came after a Twitter user highlighted his alleged presence at the university.
Malaysia’s Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 makes it an offence to access or possess child pornography, which is punishable by a maximum five-year jail term or maximum RM10,000 fine or both.
The 2017 law covers a wide range of offences, including the crimes of making, publishing, exchanging, selling, distributing of child pornography; child grooming or sexual communication with a child; or physical or non-physical sexual assault against a child.
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