from: Goh Siu Lin, via email
The Association of Women Lawyers refers to the news report on the long-awaited decision of the Home Ministry in granting citizenship to Navin Moorthy under Article 15 of the Federal Constitution.
This is indeed a significant moment for child rights in Malaysia, in line with the spirit and intent of the said Article 15A while upholding Malaysia’s obligations under Article 7 the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child on the right of every child to acquire a nationality.
M. Navin was born in this country to a Malaysian father and Filipino mother. He had endured a 3 year legal battle seeking Malaysian citizenship after his father’s two earlier applications to the Home Ministry for his son’s Malaysian citizenship were consecutively rejected in 2011 and 2012.
The first application was rejected on the ground that his parents’ marriage was not registered under our Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 whereas his second application was rejected without any reasons being provided.
AWL would like to highlight the following four considerations specified in the Court of Appeal Order to guide the Home Ministry when evaluating an application made under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution:
a) the person is under the age of 21 years who has no parents;
b) the person who has a connection with the country;
c) cases that would result in hardship;
d) the best interests of the child.
The Court of Appeal further directed the Home Ministry to arrive at its decision within six months of 29 July 2015, before M. Navin’s 18th birthday.
Currently, applicants who have submitted similar Article 15A applications for citizenship have been informed that a decision would take two years to be made. Such a period is too long for a stateless child, a persona non grata who is placed in an extremely vulnerable position, deprived of basic human rights, education and subject to exploitation.
AWL urges the government to take urgent measures to shorten the decision-making process and implement measures and legislative changes to alleviate the human misery caused by child statelessness. AWL suggests that the six-month time frame recommended by the Court of Appeal be applicable to all applications.
Goh Siu Lin is president of the Association of Women Lawyers.
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