KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― The police and other enforcement agencies must not dismiss the allegation of a baby-selling syndicate here detailed in a documentary by Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) Malaysia said today.
Unicef Malaysia representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said that child trafficking is a criminal offence under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, and that Malaysia also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 and acceded to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution in 2012.
This, she said, meant that Malaysia is obliged to ensure that all children are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation.
"The sale of children, which is considered a crime globally, must be condemned and sanctioned in the most vigorous manner without impunity and complacency. Every single allegation must be taken very seriously. Unicef encourages the Royal Malaysian Police and other enforcement agencies to pursue further investigations and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice as soon as possible," she said in a statement.
Clark-Hattingh added that Unicef supports the decision made by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for a review of current adoption laws and processes, and that the current roadblocks faced by potential adoptive parents in Malaysia further drive demand for sale of children.
"Lengthy adoption processes, alleged cases of corruption and reported misuse of power by some state officials and private health workers can only result in more couples seeking alternative routes to adoption and provide fertile ground for syndicates to thrive."
She said that Unicef Malaysia is also advocating for birth registration for children who are not registered.
"Without a birth certificate, children in Malaysia are at higher risk of being trafficked or trapped by child-for-sale syndicates. Unicef stands ready to further support the efforts of the Malaysian authorities to keep children safer and better informed."
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim told a news conference in Putrajaya today that the sale of babies in the country as not as simple as depicted in the documentary and added that authorities needed to verify the allegations in order to take action.
Rohani also said other government agencies would be called in to help, including the National Registration Department (NRD) which is under the Home Ministry and the Foreign Ministry as the allegation involved an international news organisation.
Last Thursday, Al Jazeera screened a documentary claiming a thriving trade in Malaysia where babies were sold for between US$1,500 (RM6,750) and US$2,500 (RM11,250).
Its undercover reporters claimed that doctors and other government officials could even falsify birth certificates to list the adoptive parents as the infants’ biological parents.
Police today confirmed that they have interviewed the Al Jazeera journalist from the report.