‘Outlaw corporal punishments in schools’
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI’S representative to the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC) has called for legislative change to explicitly outlaw corporal punishments in school.
“Although it is not a prevalent practice anymore, why should we still have it on the books? We should ensure all laws are consistent with our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Kassim.
Datin Hjh Intan, who is chairing the ACWC until the end of 2016, said there is no law prohibiting corporal punishment in the Education Act, making it difficult to take criminal action against abusive teachers.
She explained that while the Children and Young Persons Order prohibits physical abuse of children, there are contradicting provisions in the Penal Code which permit “acts done in good faith for the benefit of a person under 12 years of age or of unsound mind”.
“We need to harmonise all our laws related to the protection of children to make them consistent,” she said.
The United Nations’ recent review of child rights in Brunei also called for an explicit ban on the practice.
“All forms of violence against children, however light, are unacceptable and that the prerogatives of parents should in no way undermine the rights of the children,” the report stated.
Datin Hjh Intan added: “There is no legal provision preventing it which in the eyes of the international community means we still practise it. What they are looking for is the legal provision in our Education Act to criminalise corporal punishment.”
She said although other legislation – such as the Penal Code and Children and Young Persons Order – have provisions criminalising assault and abuse, a specific provision in the Education Act would be a “better targeted approach” to eradicate corporal punishment.
The Brunei Times