Protect the fundamental rights of parents and the best interest of the child — Suaram

JANUARY 4 — Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is disappointed with the decision made by the Court of Appeal in Indira Gandhi’s case on December 31, 2015.

The issue of unilateral conversion and the circumstances surrounding such cases is often difficult to address and even more so difficult to remedy. Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that everyone has the right to an effective remedy by a competent national tribunal. In cases of unilateral conversion, the Court of Appeal of Malaysia effectively divested themselves of such competency, leaving non-Muslims without a competent and suitable court to hear the matter. This clearly violates the fundamental rights held by Indira Gandhi.

Further, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the Government of Malaysia and all public institutions of the country are duty-bound to implement and enforce the principles enshrined in UNCRC. Any decisions by the Court should reflect the principles of UNCRC and place the best interests of the child as the top priority in the decision-making process.

On this note, the decision to permit the unilateral conversion of minors without any challenge by the Court of Appeal can be seen as the failure of the Court in upholding the principles of UNCRC. Not only does the failure violate children’s rights enshrined in the UNCRC, this failure also condemns the parent and children to further emotional turmoil and darkens the future of the children involved with each passing day.

As the future of Malaysia relies on the healthy development of children and young persons in Malaysia, it is of utmost importance for all governmental agencies and Malaysians to take appropriate steps to ensure that children and young persons are given an ideal environment to learn and grow. Such a failure to safeguard the best interests of the child must not be allowed to continue and must be dealt with by all relevant institutions and agencies immediately.

In the event of an appeal to the Federal Court of Malaysia, SUARAM calls upon the Federal Court to implement and uphold the principles enshrined in the UNCRC and Child Act 2001 and ensure that Indira Gandhi’s children’s interests are protected. Failure to do so would undoubtedly put Malaysia in clear violation of its obligations under the UNCRC and further tarnish Malaysia’s reputation in the world.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and/or organisation in whose name the opinion is published and does not necessarily reflect the views of Malay Mail Online.

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