sydney opera house, sydney, architecture
Photo by pattyjansen on Pixabay For illustration only

MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said must be lauded for the announcement that the government is drafting a special act to enable the establishment of a fully independent Children’s Commission which will act as a watchdog on various issues affecting children in Malaysia.

Azalina said it was vital to further empower Children’s Commissioner Dr Farah Nini Dusuki and her office, which now operates under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

The appointment of Dr Farah is for a three-year term effective March 8 pursuant to Section 5(2) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 (Suhakam Act).

That meant that Dr Farah will have the same powers as her fellow Commissioners under Section 4(2) of the Suhakam Act, which are:

(a) promote awareness of human rights and to undertake research by conducting programmes, seminars and workshops and to disseminate and distribute the results of such research;

(b) advise the Government and/or the relevant authorities of complaints against such authorities and recommend to the Government and/or such authorities appropriate measures to be taken;

(c) study and verify any infringement of human rights in accordance with the provisions of the Act;

(d) visit places of detention in accordance with procedures as prescribed by the laws relating to the places of detention and to make necessary recommendations;

(e) issue public statements on human rights as and when necessary; and

(f) undertake any other appropriate activities as are necessary in accordance with the written laws in force, if any, in relation to such activities.

By comparison, Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner is a position established under Part IIAA of the federal Human Rights Commission Act 1986. A National Children’s Commissioner is appointed under Section 46MA while the functions that are to be performed by the Commissioner are set out in Section 46MB.

The National Children’s Commissioner is specifically required to:

(a) promote discussion and awareness of matters relating to the human rights of children in Australia;

(b) undertake research, or educational or other programs, for the purpose of promoting respect for the human rights of children in Australia, and promoting the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by children in Australia;

(c) examine existing and proposed federal legislation for the purpose of ascertaining whether they recognise and protect the human rights of children in Australia, and to report to the Minister the results of any such examination.

The functions and powers of the National Children’s Commissioner are further set out in Section 46MB(2)-(6). The last subsection is of great significance as it requires the Commissioner, in performing their functions or exercising their powers, to have regards to the Universal Declaration of Human 1948 and other international conventions, as amended and in force, as well as other instruments relating to human rights as the Commissioner considers relevant.

Now, Australia not only has a National Children’s Commissioner but also a Children’s Commissioner appointed under state legislation in each of its state and territory. Like Malaysia, Australia is a federation.

The State of Victoria, for example, has the Commission for Children and Young People Act 2012 to establish a Commission for Children and Young People and to provide for the functions, powers and duties of the Commission.

The Commission consists of the Principal Commissioner who must be appointed on a full-time basis, and additional Commissioner who may be appointed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Australia, therefore, offers no less than seven legislations to look at if the government is to establish a fully independent Children’s Commissioner.

Again, we can learn from Australia.

(This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of BebasNews.)

— BebasNews

Leave a Reply