Children's Commissioner Tasked to Ensure Rights and Welfare of Children are Protected

By: Michelle Liew

The Children's Commissioner appointed under the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is set in ensuring that the rights and welfare of children continue to be protected while the Children's Commission is established.

Suhakam Commissioner Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said this is because the function of the such is to ensure that any violation of children's rights is acted upon immediately.

"The task of the Children's Commissioner is to ensure that if any child is abused, an immediate investigation will be taken and if someone is accused in court, the commissioner must ensure that children are not treated like adult accused, such as not being handcuffed, and we must ensure that their rights are not neglected and continued to be persecuted.

"The Children's Commissioner also needs to conduct periodic visits to all children's homes such as Henry Gurney School, Tunas Bakti, moral hostels and private and government children's welfare homes to monitor whether these children are well cared for or otherwise," she stated.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced yesterday that the Children's Commissioner has been appointed as a member of Suhakam with immediate effect in an effort to deal with abuse and social problems involving children.

In the meantime, Noor Aziah who is also the former Children's Commissioner for the session 2019 to 2022 said the duties as a commissioner should have freedom in making decisions including issuing statements regarding a case involving children to the media.

The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Professor of Family, Women's and Children's Law also voiced the need for appropriate allocations in an effort to ensure that the appointed commissioners can carry out their duties effectively, including awareness and education campaigns on the rights of the 9.7 million children in this country.

Lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Associate Prof Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow is of the view that efforts to protect children need to be emphasized through the enforcement of existing laws as well as the role of the surrounding community in protecting the group.

He said Malaysia already has a specific act to care for and protect children, namely the Children's Act 2001 (Act 611) which focuses on aspects of preservation, protection, and rehabilitation.