Suhakam calls for more attention on children’s rights

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    Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam says with regard to the right to education for children, the Orang Asli children continue to be deprived of access to quality education that is relevant and responsive to their specific cultural context and needs. — TRP file pic

    KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20, 2015: In commemorating Universal Children’s Day, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) wants Malaysia to do more in protecting the rights of minors in the country.

    Suhakam notes that today also marks the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989 and while Malaysia acceded to the CRC 20 years ago, much still needed to be done.

    Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said Malaysia maintained reservations to several articles in the CRC, namely on non-discrimination, citizenship, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the right to free primary school education.

    “Among others, the commission also remains concerned with the prevalence of child marriages and urges the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development that had set up a task force to review and raise the marriageable age for girls from 16 to 18 under the Syariah law, so as to be consistent with the Child Act 2001, to do so promptly.

    “With regard to the right to education for children, the Commission repeats that Orang Asli children continue to be deprived of access to quality education that is relevant and responsive to their specific cultural context and needs.

    “As a result, many Orang Asli children are illiterate,” he said in a statement today.

    Hasmy added that cases of bullying in schools also continue to make headlines nationwide and hence, authorities and stakeholders needed to engage on the issue at a national level and act swiftly to fulfil the country’s human rights obligations under the CRC.

    While he did not ignore the fact that Malaysia has made progress since acceding to the CRC, Hasmy, however, said there were still complaints of refugee, asylum-seeking, stateless, and irregular migrant children facing discrimination due to the absence of any legal status.

    “The Commission also calls on the authorities to end the practice of children being placed in immigration detention and for them to be released into the community with the necessary support to education, health and relevant services to ensure their safety and development,” he added.

    Source: The Rakyat Post