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Rights group slams govt's appeal against court decision on child's citizenship

Lawyers for Liberty asks how the government can justify its appeal given its recent remarks on statelessness as a serious national issue.

Staff Writers
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The National Registration Department says MyKads are only issued to eligible Malaysian citizens based on the provisions of the law. Photo: Bernama
The National Registration Department says MyKads are only issued to eligible Malaysian citizens based on the provisions of the law. Photo: Bernama

Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at the government's move to appeal against a High Court decision ordering the National Registration Department (JPN) to issue a birth certificate for a five-year-old boy, questioning Putrajaya's motive for doing so. 

LFL director Zaid Malek said the appeal showed that the government was not serious about addressing statelessness despite the recent statement by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail describing the matter as a serious national issue. 

"And worse still, (it) continues to perpetuate the problem by prolonging the issue by filing an unmeritorious appeal to render this unfortunate child stateless for life.

"What possible justification can they have for this? The DNA test has confirmed that the biological father of the child is a Malaysian citizen," Zaid said in a statement. 

The Kuala Lumpur High Court had said on May 18 that JPN should issue the birth certificate to reflect the child's citizenship status as a Malaysian. 

LFL said the court had rightfully determined the boy as a citizen under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, having established the paternity of his Malaysian father in accordance with a previous Federal Court decision in 2022. 

"This Federal Court decision by the chief justice herself is being blatantly ignored by the government and home minister," Zaid said.

"Instead, the PH-led government, which repeatedly promised to protect human rights, is determined to stop this young child from getting his basic right to citizenship."

He added that there was no moral justification for the government to "punish" children born outside of wedlock with statelessness. 

"This is the main ground upon which the government wants to deny the child’s status as a Malaysian," he said. 

"Being stateless is not something trivial: it hampers an individual’s rights to education, healthcare and their overall livelihood. There is no future to be had for those who are stateless, which is why it is of utmost importance that statelessness is eradicated."

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