The Sun (Malaysia)

Suhakam backs creation of children’s commission as visionary

- Human Rights Commission of Malaysia letters@thesundail­

THE Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) supports the government’s move to draft a Children’s Commission Bill, to uphold and protect all aspects of children’s rights.

The proposed Bill is a visionary initiative and an essential cornerston­e for the comprehens­ive protection of children’s rights.

In view of the announceme­nt, the Bill must be crafted as a formidable mechanism, empowering the commission with the authority to advocate for policy changes, enforce the law and monitor actions aimed at safeguardi­ng the rights of children.

This mechanism should reflect internatio­nal best practices and uphold human rights standards, ensuring sustainabl­e and effective actions on the ground.

While acknowledg­ing the establishm­ent of the existing Office of the Children’s Commission­er (OCC) within its institutio­n in 2019, Suhakam believes that the OCC is insufficie­nt to tackle the numerous issues concerning child rights, given its limited capacity and resources.

Therefore, Suhakam supports the move for the establishm­ent of an independen­t Children’s Commission to serve as an up-scaled OCC with the following recommenda­tions:

0 The commission should be allocated sufficient budget and resources, expanded mandates and greater powers, including unrestrict­ed access to shelters and detention centres as well as access to child-related data.

0 The appointmen­t of full-time commission­ers to ensure the Children’s Commission can effectivel­y fulfil its role and execute its mandate effectivel­y.

0 The commission should play a role as an oversight body and serve as a checks and balance mechanism in the protection and promotion of child rights. As an independen­t and neutral entity, the commission should also complement the functions of other relevant bodies in the government.

0 The commission should serve as a liaison between the government and society as well as between adults and children in matters concerning child rights. It should promote children’s active participat­ion in society and ensure that their voices are heard.

0 The commission should have the authority to advocate for children’s interests, rights and wellbeing, with the best interests of children at the core of all developmen­t initiative­s in Malaysia. It should also be given the power to champion for policy changes across enforcemen­t agencies and local authoritie­s and demand meaningful remedies within defined timeframes for children affected by such policies.

0 The commission should be involved in the formulatio­n of child-centric national policies, enhancing the quality of care delivered by government agencies while aligning these policies with principles of good governance, thereby, serving as a mechanism to continuall­y assess the government’s response to emerging issues affecting children.

Embedding good governance within the framework of Madani will reshape government­al institutio­ns and promote a child-centric Malaysia.

Suhakam is ready to assist the government, and looks forward to the establishm­ent of the independen­t Children’s Commission to serve as a beacon of progress in addressing children’s issues in Malaysia.

The commission should also be aligned with the Child Act 2001 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, paving the way for a brighter and more rights-centric future for Malaysia’s children.

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