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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18, 2016:

Proposed amendments to the Child Act 2001 will bar the media from publishing pictures of children during an ongoing investigation.

Currently, the Act disallows the publishing of pictures of a child aged below 18 before, during and after court proceedings involving them.

Women, Family and Community Development Ministry policy division secretary Dr Waitchalla Suppiah said the amendments extend the prohibition to during investigations as well.

“When investigations are ongoing, you are not supposed to show the child’s picture. This also includes showing any picture of anyone who could be linked to the child.

“For example, if it’s an incest case, you are not supposed to show the picture of the father if he is the perpetrator,” she told reporters today, adding that it was a matter of the child’s safety and interests.

She was speaking at the ministry’s media briefing on the proposed amendments to the Child Act.

This prohibition, although not stated, could also apply to social media as the Act just states “media”, said the ministry’s legal adviser Zahidah Zakaria.

She said parents could also be fined for putting up pictures of their children on social media.

“What is not allowed under the Act is publishing (pictures) in mass media. It doesn’t really specify who makes (writes) the report.

“Sometimes, it’s the parents that make it (pictures) viral and action can be taken against them.”

Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said the ministry would be working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on the issue of children’s pictures being used on social media.

“That’s why when we have sessions like this to plead to you, we also tell all mainstream and social media practitioners that this is already contained in the Act.

“Pictures need to be blurred. It is for safety as well.”

Under the current act, the publishing of a child’s picture is a criminal offence, subject to a fine of RM10,000, or 5 years jail time, with no amendments proposed to it.

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