Contributed by Nirmal Shanker and Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, Officers–in–Charge, Human Rights Committee, and photos by Satha Selvan Subramaniam, Senior Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
The Bar Council Human Rights Committee and Bar Council Family Law Committee, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) and the Canadian Bar Association, conducted a “Training of Trainers”. The training session was conducted for Members of the Bar with regard to ethical issues involving representation of children in conflict with the law, and representation of children in custody and adoption proceedings. The training took place from 21 Apr to 24 Apr 2016 at the Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium.
The objective of the training was 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 lawyers in Malaysia to further deliver training to other lawyers when representing children.
The four–day training was attended by 20 participants from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Perak and Sabah. Circular No 036/2016 dated 15 Feb 2016 was issued to invite applications for the training, and the participants were selected based on specific criteria, and their expertise and experience.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Secretary of the Malaysian Bar, gave the opening remarks and welcomed the participants to the training.
The facilitators of the training were:
Mary Birdsell, Executive Director, Justice for Children and Youth, Ontario, Canada; Katherine Kavassalis, Legal Director, Personal Rights Department, Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Victim and Vulnerable Persons Division, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, Canada; Kitson Foong, Partner, Messrs Kit & Associates; and Prema Devaraj, Programme Consultant, Women’s Centre for Change, Penang.
The training included the following:
discussions on child rights; approaches to child representation and interviewing skills; representing a child in conflict with the law; advocating for a child; representing a child in family custody and access proceedings; best interest advocacy strategies; ethical issues in family custody; and presentation exercises.
The Human Rights Committee will look into planning regional training for lawyers on the issue of ethical representation of children in conflict with the law, and custody and adoption proceedings, during the 2016/2017 term.