KUALA LUMPUR: The amendments to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Act 1999 (Act 597) will strengthen the function of the commission in matters related to children's rights through the appointment of a Chief Children Commissioner and two Children Commissioners.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pix) said the commission would now have the power to visit any detention centre or institution for children.

In addition, she said the amendments to the act would further strengthen the functions of the relevant positions which include their role to monitor the implementation of laws related to children.

“The role of a chief and two (children) commissioners is not for policing, not for enforcement...but they are educators and informants in human rights matters relating to children.

“Just like the representatives of the commission in Sabah and Sarawak, they also help in the issues of stateless children,“ she said when winding up debate on the bill in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Azalina said children's affairs are not only under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development but are also the responsibility of 21 other agencies and departments that apply 42 laws related to children.

Meanwhile, she said any person who is actively involved in politics and registered with any political party shall not be appointed as a member of the commission.

This amendment is in line with the aspiration of the government to ensure that the membership of the commission encompasses all groups of society and to ensure that the commission carry out its functions independently and with integrity.

The bill was later passed with a voice vote. -Bernama

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