Contributed by Rajeswari Gunarasa, Officer, Child Rights Committee; photos by Rosniza bt Musa, Officer, Terengganu Bar
The Bar Council Child Rights Committee (“CRC”) conducted its inaugural training on the Elementary Course on the Representation of Children in Malaysia on 29 Sept 2016 at the Hotel Grand Continental, Kuala Terengganu.
This newly formed committee, co–chaired by Ajeet Kaur and Srividhya Ganapathy, was set up in August 2016, to achieve the following objectives:
(1) To train lawyers on the ethical representation of children;
(2) To carry out advocacy on child rights and raise awareness;
(3) To make improvements to laws affecting children’s rights and welfare;
(4) To carry out watching briefs for cases involving children; and
(5) To promote legislative reforms in the area of child rights.
The CRC seeks to provide training for lawyers on the ethical representation of children throughout Malaysia.
In brief, the training sessions will contain the following:
(a) six hours of elementary training at least once each year, throughout Malaysia; and
(b) all participants who complete the elementary training will be invited for advance or intensive training in Kuala Lumpur.
The elementary training includes three main modules:
Module 1: Introduction and Approaches to Child Representation;
Module 2: Representing a Child in Conflict with the Law; and
Module 3: Representing a Child in Family Custody Proceedings.
The trainers at the inaugural training session in Kuala Terengganu were:
Ajeet Kaur, Co–Chairperson of CRC;
Srividhya Ganapathy, Co–Chairperson of CRC;
Lee Teong Hooi, member of CRC; and
Goh Siu Lin, member of CRC.
While the training is conducted by members of CRC, they were all part of the inaugural group that attended the Training of Trainers for Ethical Representation of Children in Conflict with the Law, and for Custody and Adoption Proceedings (“Training of Trainers”) organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) in collaboration with the Bar Council, and conducted by the Canadian Bar Association, held in April 2016.
This training — the first of its kind organised by the Bar Council — received overwhelming response from the participants, and is a good indicator of the quality and benefits of the training.
It was conducted through a combination of lecture, role play, case study and power point presentation. A rectangular–seating placement was adopted for participants to have maximum interaction with each other and the trainers. Participants also engaged in role–playing exercises to enhance listening and communication skills.
Similar training sessions will be held in the north, south and central regions before a more intensive course begins in Kuala Lumpur sometime early next year. It is compulsory for participants to complete the elementary training before attending the intensive course.
It is the CRC’s objective to improve the knowledge and skills of lawyers in Malaysia on practical and ethical issues involved in representing children, as well as to train a core group of Malaysian lawyers who can, in turn, train other lawyers in this area.