Rights group tells Putrajaya to stop blocking stateless kids’ bid for citizenship

Lawyers N.Surendran (left) and Latheefa Koya said citizenship should have been granted years ago instead of dragging these children through the courts. —  Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Lawyers N.Surendran (left) and Latheefa Koya said citizenship should have been granted years ago instead of dragging these children through the courts. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — Ahead of the final appeal hearing this Thursday over three stateless children’s legal attempt to gain citizenship, the Lawyers for Liberty group has urged the Home Ministry and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to withdraw its challenge.

The group said the children already suffered enough from the wrongful denial of their citizenship under the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, adding that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should not prolong the matter.

“We are disappointed that despite the change of government, the current Home Ministry and AG’s chambers have been maintaining the objections to citizenship for these children. Despite having postponed the hearing of the cases twice to re-consider the matter, on Thursday they will be objecting in court for grant of citizenship in these cases.

“Maintaining the objections in court increases the uncertainty and trauma that these children and their families have been undergoing for many years. Citizenship should have been granted years ago instead of dragging these children through the courts,” said N.Surendran and Latheefa Koya in their statement here today.

They reminded PH that it had campaigned on stateless issues prior to the general election and repeatedly promised to resolve such matters if voted into power.

They said that thousands of other stateless people will continue to undergo the same plight under the new government if they continue to take such an uncompromising position.

“This is unacceptable, and contrary to the aspirations and hopes of Malaysians in the post-BN era.

“We urge the Home Ministry and AGC to reconsider the objections in these cases, and consent to the appeals of these stateless children. They have suffered enough under the BN regime; it is time to end the long wait of these children for citizenship,” they said.

The final hearing at the Federal Court of the appeals of three stateless children for grant of citizenship which is to be heard this Thursday, after being postponed at least five times since March last year.

Senior lawyer Datuk Cyrus Das is representing two of the three individuals aged 17 and 18, while Lawyer Ranee Sreedharan is representing a 13-year-old girl. They were part of five Malaysian-born children who has had issues with their documents due to various complications with their parents.

Two, represented by Koya, dropped out of the case after they were offered citizenship by the Home Ministry in October last year.

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