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Malaysia

Unregistered marriages have nothing to do with it, says lawyers group on stateless kids

Lawyers for Liberty says the marital status of parents is irrelevant to the issue of statelessness among children. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyers group took the government to task today for its statement in Parliament laying the blame for stateless children on the failure of parents to register their marriages.

Calling the remarks “irresponsible” and “contrary to the Federal Constitution”, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said the marital status of parents is irrelevant.

“By virtue of the 2nd Schedule Part 2 Section 1(a) of the constitution, as long as one of the parents of the child is Malaysian, the child is automatically a Malaysian citizen.

“The situation remains the same even where the mother is a non-citizen, because the child has fulfilled the requirement under Section 1(a) that at least one parent is a citizen.

“In short, irrespective of the mother being a non-citizen and the marriage being unregistered, the child is automatically entitled to Malaysian citizenship as long as the father is a citizen,” LFL adviser N Surendran said in a statement.

He was responding to Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman, who told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that citizenship is contingent on the marital status of a person’s parents, along with their citizenship.

Azis added that if parents register their marriages only after the children are born, an application for citizenship can be made under Article 15A.

However, Surendran said Article 15A is “of no use” to stateless children as it is granted at the absolute discretion of the home minister.

He added that applications under Article 15A take several years to process and frequently result in repeated rejection while the stateless child remains in limbo.

“The Pakatan Harapan government’s answer in Parliament yesterday that the children can apply under Article 15A was the standard response given by the old Barisan Nasional regime,” he said.

“It is a transparent delaying tactic to deny citizenship to desperate stateless children.”

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