Criminal court on sexual crimes against children will be extended

The establishment of the Special Criminal Court on Sexual Crimes Against Children will be extended to other states in stages, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said the first phase of the establishment of the special court in Sarawak, Selangor and Johor was expected to be implemented no later than year-end.

“On Wednesday, I presented a memorandum to extend the establishment of the special court nationwide and the Cabinet has agreed for the court to be set up in four phases, with the first phase being set up in these three states which record high rates of sexual crime against children.

“We hope that with the existence of this special court, we will be able to solve child sexual crime cases within a year as directed by the Chief Justice of the country, and give a message that the government will not delay the prosecution in these states,” she added.

Azalina was speaking to reporters after opening a seminar on Child Sexual Crimes in 2017, organised by the Badan Amal dan Kasih Negri Selangor (Kasih) here, which was attended by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar.

She said the second phase of the establishment of the special court would be in Kedah and Perlis (simultaneously), Kelantan and Pahang; the third phase in Penang, Negri Sembilan and Malacca while the fourth phase would be in Sabah, Perak and Terengganu.

Commenting further, she said the proposal to expand the Criminal Court on Sexual Crimes Against Children to other states was due to the fact that many cases registered in the first special court in Putrajaya were resolved quickly.

“For cases in Putrajaya (special court), there were 303 cases registered in three months of the court being established and of that number, 255 cases or 84 per cent have been solved. This proves that the court achieved its objective and solved the cases efficiently in less than 12 months.

“The courts in these states will be equipped with the same facilities as in Putrajaya, such as Court Recording Transcription and Audio Visual System. We also hope the Permata Foundation will finance waiting rooms for child witnesses in these states as is done in Putrajaya,” said Azalina.

To ensure the special courts in these 12 states could operate effectively, she said specialised training for judicial and legislative officials handling child sexual crimes would also be implemented.

Today, the minister said, a standard operating procedure (SOP) meeting would be held with the court to discuss the need for a special record book for testimonies involving children.

“When there are child witnesses, there are the do’s and don’ts. These children are a bit different … I will refer to the Evidence Of Child Witness Act 2007 and we will review whether we want to make amendments, including children’s evidence in the form of recording, we need to study on the cross-examination and so on.

“I hope I can bring the study to the Cabinet, maybe during the Dewan Rakyat sitting in October, I can bring a proposal for the amendment (Evidence Of Child Witness Act ),” she added.