KUALA LUMPUR: Every single allegation on children being sold must be taken very seriously, said Unicef, adding that the sale of children must be condemned and sanctioned in the most vigorous manner.
It also called for the commitments by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the Ministry of Health, the National Registration Department (NRD) and the police to be translated into “real and firm action”.
“There must be no impunity and complacency,” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, Unicef Representative Malaysia, in a statement.
Unicef will encourage the police and other agencies to pursue investigations, adding that the alleged perpetrators be brought to justice.
Clark-Hattingh was commenting on “disturbing allegations” by Al-Jazeera’s 101 East programme that children were being sold in Malaysia.
The UN body pointed out that treating children as “commodities” was both legally and ethically wrong adding that its primary concern was for the well-being of children and mothers trapped by trafficking rings in Malaysia.
“These victims should receive immediate protection and care,” Clark-Hattingh said.
Moving forward, Unicef urged all stakeholders to ensure the interest of the child in the adoption process, calling for a family-based care approach for children living without guardians.
It noted the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development had called for a review of adoption laws and processes.
“The multiple roadblocks faced by adoptive parents further drive demand for sale of children,” said Unicef.
The couples, seeking alternative routes, provide fertile ground for syndicates to thrive, it cautioned.
Unicef said it has been working on child safety nets with child protection, welfare and child justice personnel, as well as civil society organisations.
In addition, it’s also advocating birth registration for children.
Without a birth certificate, said Unicef, children are at higher risk of being trafficked or trapped by child-for-sale syndicates.
Malaysia has several laws dealing with baby sale.
These include the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995.
Another was the Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution in 2012.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that about 160 people were convicted of child abduction and child trafficking in Malaysia from 2003 to 2006. -FMT