NGOs urge govt to submit long overdue report on child rights to UN

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PETALING JAYA: Child advocacy groups have urged the government to submit its long overdue official state report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Committee in line with the obligations under the convention.

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Malaysia assented to the convention in 1995, and is required to submit a state report every five years. Thus far however, only one state report has been submitted – back in 2006. In 2019 the Pakatan Harapan government said a new report would be submitted this year, but a new government has taken over and this has yet to come to pass.

Presenting the latest “Status Report on Child Rights in Malaysia 2019,” the Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM), a collective of numerous stakeholders, urged the government to prioritise the issue and look to their latest report as a guide for the issues presently facing Malaysian children.

Unicef senior child protection specialist Sarah Norton-Staal said her team had been in regular communication with the women, family and community development ministry.

“They have been working very hard on it, and the last time we met with them in September, Unicef offered to give them support.

“I think they feel that with all the competing demands on their time, and their desire to do a good and comprehensive job, they have found it challenging, that’s what I’ve been told.”

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She said Unicef could offer resources such as their local teams to assist, technical help or money to hire the necessary staff, and noted that a delay like the one facing Malaysia was common in many developing countries.

“Even at the committee in Geneva, they have developed new tools to assist country offices and offer abbreviated reporting or reports that are less arduous so that they don’t see it as too overwhelming.”

Similarly, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) children’s commissioner Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said the government should “not delay” in sending the report as it would be an opportunity to “report on the various achievements in upholding children rights pursuant to the UNCRC”.

She added that she had met with the women’s ministry in June and had expressed the need to send the UNCRC committee the reports owed.

However, she expressed concern that if the government attempts to put together the “perfect” report, “I worry it may not be sent at all”.

The “Status Report on Child Rights in Malaysia 2019” compiles information on the difficulties facing children in Malaysia, including poverty, education and abuse, and offers policy recommendations. Also included is a special section on the effects of the pandemic on child rights issues. – FMT

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