Govt to submit child rights report to UN next year

KPWKM is also focused on increasing the number of child protection officers to 1,500 officers next year from the current 208 officers


THE government will submit a report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) committee next year. Malaysia filed a similar report to the world body 13 years ago.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh (picture) said the ministry is completing the report’s final draft which also involves cooperation from other ministries.

“Once we receive clearance from our legal advisor, we will submit the report to the Attorney General’s Chamber. We are committed to making this submission and ensuring it to happen next year,” she told reporters at the launch of Status Report on Child Rights in Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.

Malaysia is obligated to report to the UNCRC committee every five years as the government ratified the CRC in 1995. The CRC is an international human rights treaty which articulates the rights of children and is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.

The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) is also focused on increasing the number of child protection officers to 1,500 officers next year from the current 208 to handle cases involving abused and abandoned children.

She said the ministry is in talks with the Public Service Department to increase the figure as the current number of officers is not enough to handle over nine million children in the country.

Yeoh added that a children’s agency is also in the pipeline next year to outline plans specially catered to children’s needs.

“We have a ministry for youth and other ministries, but we do not have one for children. The least we could do is to have a specialised agency to enforce and roll out developmental plans for children,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Status Report on Child Rights in Malaysia 2018 was written by Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM), which is made up of 13 non-governmental organisations.

The report contains 16 chapters based on the principles and rights articulated in the UNCRC, and covers various topics including refugees, child trafficking and healthcare.

Among the issues highlighted in the report are citizenship and stateless children in Malaysia. It revealed that there are 290,000 stateless children in the country and 60,000 of them are without birth certificates.

Women’s Aid Organisation head of capacity development Melissa Mohd Akhir said through the launch of the status report, CRCM seeks to renew human rights understanding and commitments for the change in Malaysia that children want to see is made real.

“We would like to work together with all parties to support children’s rights, particularly in their rights to access justice and effective remedies, consistent respect for their individual dignity and meaningful, positive action in all aspects that impact children,” she added.

Also present at the launch was the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia commissioner for children Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, who announced her plan to form a Children Consultative Council (CCC) — a forum for children to actively participate in various levels of decision-making.

She plans to have the first consultation in February next year and will have a session every three months.

“I would like to introduce CCC to children aged 12 to 17 years old so that they would work with me in issues related to children and I hope to get a lot of feedback from the children themselves.

“I am looking forward to having my first consultation with them and thereafter to form a more permanent CCC to assist the Office of the Children Commissioner in executing its mandate,” she said.