All children in conflict with law in Malaysia should be accorded free legal representation
12 February 2022
By Farah Salim
KUALA LUMPUR: All children in conflict with the law should be accorded free legal representation, said Parliamentary Select Committee on Women and Children Affairs and Social Development (PSCC) chairman Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Pengerang, in a joint statement with the other eight MPs in the committee, said the PSCC viewed with concern the recent news reports about police in Terengganu detaining a 15-year-old girl, an alleged rape victim after her newborn baby boy was found dead with stab wounds, to assist in investigations under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
"The PSCC is concerned that in this instance, the first action of the relevant agencies seems to have been to detain the child under remand whilst the child was still in the neonatal ward, for investigation for murder, without a comprehensive psychological assessment or social welfare report being carried out - and without her being accorded the benefit of any legal representation, or psychological assistance,” the statement said.
The committee, among others, recommended that all children in conflict with the law be accorded free legal representation from the point of detention until the completion of the criminal justice process to ensure that their rights are adequately and fully protected.
It also recommended that the various stakeholders of the criminal justice system including the Bar Council, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the police and the Chief Registrar’s Office work together towards achieving such free legal representation for all children in conflict with the law in Malaysia.
In light of Malaysia’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, PSCC also commended the protections accorded to children under the Child Act 2001 including the treatment of children whilst under detention be strictly complied with by all law enforcement authorities.
The committee also suggested that awareness campaigns be revived by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to prevent baby abandonment and to offer support and assistance to young unwed mothers.
The other eight MPs in the committee are Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin (Rompin), Rubiah Wang (Kota Samarahan), Che Alias Hamid (Kemaman), Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman (Sik), Fuziah Salleh (Kuantan), Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (Lembah Pantai), Alice Lau Kiong Yieng (Lanang) and Hannah Yeoh (Segambut).