The Sun (Malaysia)
Suhakam backs creation of children’s commission as visionary
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.