KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A registry to keep track of convicted child abusers and paedophiles will be set up once amendments to the Child Act are passed by Malaysia's Parliament later this year.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said this would be the first time that such a registry was being created and would contain the particulars of perpetrators for public access.
"For example, those who operate daycare centres can check to determine if any prospective employee is listed in the registry," she said during a media briefing on proposed amendments to the Child Act 2001 at Institut Sosial Nasional in Kuala Lumpur on Monday (Jan 18).
Ms Rohani said the cut-off date for offenders to be included in the registry would be decided once the law comes into effect.
"We will liaise with the courts to obtain the details of offenders," she said.
She added that those seeking information could call or write in to the ministry for a background check.
Earlier, during the question-and-answer session with the media, the ministry's policy division secretary, Dr Waitchalla V. Suppiah, said the registry would help prevent convicted child abusers and paedophiles from coming into contact with children.
The registry, she said, would form part of a database on cases involving children.
The Bill to amend the Child Act was tabled on Dec 2 last year and is expected to be passed by the Dewan Rakyat in March.
The amendments will see whipping abolished for child offenders, who could also be spared custodial sentences and instead be ordered to do 120 hours of community service within a six-month period.
The new laws also increase penalties for child neglect, exploitation and abuse to a maximum fine of RM50,000 (S$16,370), 20 years' jail or both upon conviction.
Voice of Children chairman Sharmila Sekaran welcomed the proposed registry but expressed caution over its use.
"The information provided must be limited and not reveal the victim's identity. The registry should also not be used to 'name and shame' offenders," she said.
She added that names of youth offenders should also be protected while safeguards must be in place to prevent vigilantes from taking advantage of the information.