Undocumented Children

1225 Words5 Pages
Malaysia has worked with UNICEF since 1954 and has seen vast improvements in its efforts and success rates in upholding children’s rights in this small country. Malaysia acceded to the Convention on the rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 and introduced the Child Act in 2001. There has been notable progress achieved in providing education and primary healthcare for children. However, there are still some prevalent issues that has not been addressed and still poses a challenge for Malaysia in delivering her promise to the children in Malaysia. One of the pressing issues that Malaysia faces, and often goes unnoticed is the unforeseen consequences of having a large number of undocumented children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers…show more content…
Malaysia also has become the location for asylum seekers and refugees fleeing from neighbouring countries. Due to the increased influx of movements into Malaysia, the Malaysian authorities have been very strict in their regulations in regards to migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees. Malaysia is also not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, nor its 1967 Protocol on Refugees. Malaysia also lacks a formal legislative framework and administrative mechanism in addressing refugee matters. Given this, children born from migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees are not recognised as Malaysian citizens as they are not allowed to be registered at the time of their birth. Some of the asylum seekers also face the risk of being arrested as illegal immigrants if they try to register their children. Malaysia does not consider citizenship by place of birth (jus soli), therefore children born from migrant, illegal workers, asylum seekers, and refugees are given special birth certificates marked ‘Orang Asing’ which does not give them the basic rights children born in Malaysia enjoy. Also, children who are born out of wedlock where the only the father is Malaysian citizen and the mother is a non-Malaysian will be given the citizenship status of their mother, which can…show more content…
This change of mind-set should take place among policymakers and members of the civil society. We need a move from the traditional needs based to rights-based policies and programs for children in Malaysia. From the Malaysian government’s perspective, in terms of the National Legislative Framework and Principles, the Government can withdraw all remaining reservations to the CRC and full incorporation of their guidelines into Malaysian laws. In moving forward, any domestic policy reforms can be ensured to be fully compatible with the principles and provisions of the CRC. In addressing the possibility of stateless children, the Government can provide more accessible means of birth registration, logistically and cost wise. All children, regardless of their legal status, must be allowed to be able to access birth registration. Any administrative and legal requirements that can result in children being undocumented or stateless should be revised, and removed. Malaysian parent(s) should be able to confer their citizenship onto their children, regardless of their marital status. The Government must realise that detention centres for children is never a good solution and also that it should only be the last resort, and only for the shortest period possible. In addressing issues of undocumented and statelessness
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