The Cabinet has decided to classify baby dumping that leads to the death of babies as a crime that warrants the death sentence.

This was needed to nail those responsible for the deaths of the babies, said Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

“The Cabinet has decided that the Home Ministry through the police, investigate these cases as murder when a baby dies,” she said.

Police would be asked to conduct DNA tests to identify the parents of dead babies, she said in a statement.

Under Section 302 of the Penal Code, the punishment for murder is death.

Before this, cases of baby dumping which led to death were mainly investigated under Section 317 (abandonment), Section 318 (concealment of birth by secret disposal of body), Section 309 (infanticide) or Section 31 of the Child Act (abandonment), said a ministry’s legal officer.

Jail sentences ranged from 10 to 30 years and offenders were also liable to fines.

Shahrizat said the ministry had raised the issue on Aug 11 in the Cabinet, which agreed to take drastic steps to address the problem.

The Government had no choice in the matter as such acts were tantamount to baby killing, she said.

The ministry’s legal advisor Salahudin Shariff said as many as 241 babies were abandoned since 2008 and 60 babies were reportedly abandoned so far this year. A total of 25 of the babies dumped this year were boys, 21 were girls, 14 could not be identified due to decomposition while one baby was badly mauled by dogs.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police had always considered the dumping of babies either as murder or attempted murder.

He advised the authorities to conduct a thorough study before coming up with any punitive measure.

Source: The Star Online @ 13/8/2010.