PROTECTING AND RESPECTING EVERY CHILD’S RIGHTS
Every child, whatever his or her nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status has the right to welfare and protection. Voice of the Children (VoC) was founded in 2008 to advocate for law and policy reform to ensure that the rights of every child in Malaysia are protected. VoC advocates for and raises public awareness on a multitude of issues affecting children. It uses all means – press releases, researched reports, children’s books, rights awareness events and collaborative partnerships – to put its message across. VoC also engages in regular dialogue with the Government. VoC’s ongoing work focuses on two areas – children in the justice system and birth registration, specifically focusing on children who are undocumented or stateless. In addition, VoC responds to issues concerning children’s rights as they arise in the media or policy arenas.
VoC’s Child and Youth Justice System Project aims to strengthen the Malaysian child justice system by introducing child-rights based approaches in handling child offenders, victims and witnesses. In 2013, VoC produced a participant’s manual, a facilitator’s manual and a supplementary reading booklet for the legal training programme while conducting three legal trainings – two in the Klang Valley and one in Sarawak geared towards junior lawyers. 50 Participants took part in VoC legal training in 2013.
The year also saw VoC spending a good deal of time putting together a dual language book titled Rights of Children: A Collection of Socio-Legal Essays that will be published in April 2014. To address the issue of birth registration/statelessness, VoC completed filming a short documentary, featuring first-person narratives of undocumented children and adults. The film is envisaged to humanise the impact of current birth registration policies on children and how they are excluded from mainstream society. VoC’s online presence is very strong and it has an active website, monthly e-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter pages.
VoC continues to strengthen its Child and Youth Justice System Project by extending the training programme to public prosecutors and judges. This training will be supplemented by a legal literacy programme for children which will be delivered to the children by caregivers and social workers.