Lawyers for Liberty says Malaysia has jurisdiction over the case and cannot just ‘push the problem’ to Thailand.
PETALING JAYA: A lawyers group today criticised the move to send 11-year-old child bride Masaryu Mat Rashid back to Thailand, calling it a “transparent attempt to ‘close the case’ and get rid of the problem”.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said the “crime” against Masaryu had taken place on Malaysian soil, therefore any investigation and prosecution must go through the country’s criminal justice system.
Also Read: Child Bride Sent Back to Thailand
“We have jurisdiction, and cannot just push the problem to Thailand,” said LFL executive director Latheefa Koya.
“Why is the child, being the key prosecution witness, suddenly whisked off to Thailand? Will this not jeopardise the ongoing investigations and any potential prosecution?
“Surely the authorities here have the resources and capability to protect and counsel the child victim while the criminal law takes it course against the suspect.”
Last week, it was reported that Masaryu, who married 41-year-old rubber tapper Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid in June, had returned to Thailand, her country of birth.
Narathiwat provincial governor Suraporn Prommool said the girl was undergoing mental health counselling because of the intense level of attention sparked by her marriage.
In a statement, Latheefa said Masaryu’s sudden dispatch to Thailand had come as a shock as Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also women, family and community development minister, had repeatedly promised that police investigations were ongoing.
“Even the news of the child’s removal was not released by the DPM or her ministry, but by the Thai governor of the province where the child is located now,” she said.
The PKR lawyer added that despite Wan Azizah’s statement that police investigations would be concluded immediately to enable prosecution against the offender, no action had been taken against Che Abdul.
“By his own admission, including of lusting after the child since she was seven, the paedophile ‘husband’ has committed the offence of child grooming under the Sexual Offences Act 2017.
“It is an open-and-shut case, yet he still walks unpunished and even gives media interviews like some celebrity.
“He remains a threat not just to this child, but other vulnerable children from poor families as well. The failure to take decisive action is a signal to other potential paedophiles that they can safely operate in Malaysia.”
In July, Che Abdul was fined RM1,800 by the Gua Musang Shariah Court after pleading guilty to marrying a minor without prior consent from the shariah court and engaging in polygamy without permission from his spouse.
Suraporn said although the marriage was not recognised under Buddhist-majority Thailand’s civil law, it took place under the auspices of an Islamic council in Narathiwat and her parents gave consent.
“We cannot do anything (to annul the marriage) because they married under the religious law,” he said.
However, the trader could face six months in jail if it is found that he did not get permission in Malaysia.
The current legal age for marriage under civil law is 18, while shariah courts are empowered to allow Muslim marriages at 16 or younger.
Source : FreeMalaysiaToday