Child Act 2001

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The Child Act 2001 is a Malaysian law which served to consolidate the Juvenile Courts Act 1947, the Women and Young Girls Protection Act 1973, and the Child Protection Act 1991.[1] It was enacted partially in order to fulfill Malaysia's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, it retains the option of corporal punishment for child offenders.[2] In December 2004, members of the legal community suggested that the law needed review, despite its newness, in order to clarify its criminal procedures.[3] One example of the Act's unclarity was brought to light in a 2007 case involving a 13-year old convicted of murder. Under Section 97(1) of the Act, capital punishment may not be applied to children; Sections 97(2), 97(3), and 97(4) make provisions for alternative punishments for offences which would result in the death penalty if committed by adults, namely detention at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. However, Section 97(2) was overturned by the Court of Appeal in July 2007 on the grounds that it violated the Constitution of Malaysia's doctrine of separation of powers, leading to the situation that no punishment at all could be rendered.[2]

The Act was meant to give further protection to a child offender.[4] There are however a number of shortcomings missing from the Act. Besides the uncertainty of detention period under Section 97, another omission is the maximum length of the remand order. For an adult offender, Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for a maximum of 14 days remand. Section 84(2) of the Child Act simply allows the court to make a remand order without prescribing the maximum length of remand. This problem was subsequently remedied in a 2003 case which held that the Criminal Procedure Code would govern the remand period of a child.

With regards to the trial procedure, an adult accused has the option to give a sworn evidence, unsworn evidence, or remain silent. The Child Act does not provide for any right to remain silent. Section 90(9) merely allows the child to give sworn or unsworn evidence.

Additional protection[edit]

The Act has provided extra protection for a child offender especially with regards to the privacy of the child. The trial for the Court for Children shall be in closed court (in camera). Only certain specified persons are allowed to attend the trial. There now a legal duty for the parents of the child to attend the trial.

It also contains provisions to protect the child from associating with adult offenders in prison or elsewhere.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Malaysia Child Act 2001". UNICEF. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b Hussein, Ranita (2007-08-05). "Comment: Crime, punishment and the child offender". The New Straits Times. Retrieved 2007-09-25. [dead link]
  3. ^ Theophilus, Claudia (2004-12-07). "Bar Council: Child Act needs urgent review". Malaysiakini. Archived from the original on 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  4. ^ Singh Sidhu, Baljit (May 2003). "An Overview of the Child Act 2001 and the Criminal Procedure Aspects". The Malayan Law Journal 2. 

External links[edit]