The children’s commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today welcomed the announcement that stateless children in Sarawak would be issued temporary documentation to allow them access to public schools and medical services at the same fee rate as citizens.
Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said the move, announced by state women, childhood and community well-being development minister Fatimah Abdullah, marked a major administrative shift in favour of stateless children.
She also urged Putrajaya to adopt the same measure for implementation across the country.
“Since its inception, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has received numerous complaints related to statelessness, including delays in school admissions, denied admission, steep education and medical costs.
“These are contrary to Malaysia’s international obligations as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure that all institutions make the best interest of children a primary consideration in all actions,” she said.
In a statement, she noted the stand of former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin that education should be made available to all children.
She said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had also stated in his speech on World Children’s Day last year that every child has the right to proper education and a conducive environment to achieve their full potential.
“The CC implores the federal government to cooperate with the Sarawak government in their progressive efforts by ensuring that education and health authorities recognise the temporary documentation,” she said.
“In addition to violations of their right to nationality, stateless persons are often subject to many other human rights violations and thus, the CC appeals to the federal government to adopt the same measure to be implemented in all states.”