Azalina: Don’t be a minister if you can’t give justice to child sex victims

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Delay on special court for sexual crimes against children.

Concerned over the possibility of more abuse cases among children in the country, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) questioned the delay over the setting up of the Special Criminal Court on Sexual Crimes Against Children.

She said the four-year delay is a disservice to children who become victims of abuse, adding that the facility is needed in each state due to a rise in such cases.

Azalina pointed out that the special court was supposed to be established nationwide when she was the law minister under the Barisan Nasional government.

“Until today it has not been done,” she revealed in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The first special court for sexual crimes against children was established at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya in June 2017.

Later that year, plans were announced to set up similar courts nationwide – with the goal being to complete the exercise by the end of 2018.

A second one was established in Kuching, Sarawak in April 2018 but there is no indication that such courts were set up in other states.

The special courts presided over by sessions judges who specialise in laws regarding children would, among others, fast track cases of sexual offences against children.

It would also provide special witness rooms for children to testify safely.

Azalina said this would spare children from the long-drawn-out processes at regular criminal courts.

“(At regular criminal court), the child would go in and out of court, until they grow up. Who will want to be a witness?

“It’s shameful. This is why we want a special court, special witness rooms, special guidelines.

‘With Covid-19, how many children have been abused at home, become victims of crime. Where would their cases be brought?

“If you just want to be a minister, but can’t solve this, then don’t be a minister,” she said.

Although she did not mention names, it is believed the criticism was directed at Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun who was absent during Azalina’s speech in the House.

Further, Azalina said “the minister responsible” must understand the severity of the issue, adding that it must be resolved now.

“The thing is these things happen at home. It’s like letting the fox look after the hen’s house. When the house is locked and the child becomes a victim, who do we point our fingers at?

“I’d like to ask this to the minister responsible. This is a big issue. We can’t be talking to the chairs (in the House) all the time.

“When we say things like this, it doesn’t mean we are angry or hate the government. It’s simply because we (MPs) are voted in by the people and this is a serious matter concerning them,” she said.