PROHAM CALLS ON THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT TO GIVE MORE SERIOUS ATTENTION TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OF UNDOCUMENTED& STATELESS PERSONS IN MALAYSIA
Proham Press Release
About 23 people participated at the Proham Roundtable discussion on Human Rights & Undocumented person in Malaysia on Dec 20, 2012.Among the participants were representatives from Suhakam, UNHCR, UNICEF, World Vision, Jewel, Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA) & Voice of Children (VOC).
The RTD was moderated by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam and the speakers included Dato Siva Subramanium of Special Implementation Taskforce (SITF), PM Dept, Ms Nathini Ramalo of DHRRA Malaysia, Mr Eric Paulsen of Lawyers for Liberty & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria of Proham
The discussion was very lively and dwelled on many critical issues and concerns affecting undocumented persons in Malaysia. The discussion raised the following matters & recommendations:-
First, we recognise the issue of documentation affects certain sections of Malaysian society especially among disadvantaged and displaced plantation workers like the Indian community, interior communities especially forest based like the Penans in Sarawak and also the people of Siamese origin on the Malaysian-Thai boarders. There are also documented cases among Malays, Orang Aslis and Malaysians of Chinese origin
Therefore this issue of documentation is not an ethnic issue which is peculiar to one community or sub community but a national concern requiring urgent attention by the Federal government.In this context Proham recognises that a single common denominator among the undocumented people is poverty and being in a situation of being disadvantaged and ignorant of public policies and requirements including their difficulties to access public sector service. A large section of these people have been cheated or exploited in this process of application by middle men and community leaders in the pretext of assisting the undocumented person.
Second, the various speakers and participants at the RTD highlighted numerous hurdles and hardships faced by undocumented Malaysian especially their denial of basic human rights due to non-possession of documents. The ground stories depicts human tragedy and misery faced especially children below the age of 18 who have major problems with regards to acces to education and health care which is also being noted as non-compliance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Malaysia is a party too.
Third, we do note that the size of the problem is being disputed by different parties. The figures being highlighted range from about 9,000 to as high as 300,000. In this context it is pointed out that it is of utmost importance that the Federal government determine the size and extent of the problem in Malaysia.
It is important to note that the issue of undocumented Malaysians is a very serious issue and requires urgent Federal government leadership and stronger political will to resolve many inter-generational cases which have not been resolved since Merdeka. Such cases have been highlighted by NGOs and the media.There is the urgent need for the Department of Statistics and relevant agencies to create a data base of all unresolved cases and bring to closure many individuals and families being impacted by being undocumented in Malaysian society
Fourth, we note that since 2010 the Prime Minister through the Special Implementation Taskforce and the full cooperation of the National Registration Department has undertaken a comprehensive ‘My daftar campaign’ which has dawn 14, 385 Malaysian Indians of whom 9,529 had made applications and to date a total of 6,590 have been successful.This campaign is commendable and Proham recommends that a second My Daftar campaign be launched in early 2013 in order to address the needs and concerns of many others who were not able to participate in the first campaign. The setting up of mobile units and a more pro-active approach is also recommend in partnership and cooperation with civil society and community and religious groups.
Fifth, Proham recognises that out of the 14, 385 Malaysian Indians registered in ‘My daftar campaign’, some 4,856 were unable to make an application as they did not have the necessary supporting documents and also another 2,472 applications were rejected as it was incomplete and 467 who were out rightly rejected.Proham strongly recommends that these 7,795 cases be reviewed as a pilot study and the data analysed in great detail to determine the pattern of the issues and hurdles as these applications are not from recent arrivals to Malaysia but are undocumented Malaysians. This review will seek to identify ways and means to resource not just the documentation but also determine their nationality and citizenship consistent to Federal Constitutions and human rights principles
Sixth, it was noted with tremendous concern the numerous administrative and procedural requirements imposed by the National Registration Department as supporting documents required to verify citizenship which can be viewed as being inconsistent with the provisions of the Federal Constitution (Art 14, 16, 19 and Second schedule Part I & Par II). Some participants indicated that many of demands were unreasonable and inconsistent to the Federal constitution amounting to denial of fundamental human rights.Proham calls for a in-depth legal review of all the forms, procedures & requirements to be consistent to the spirit and direction of the Federal Constitution and human rights standards
Seventh, while the discussion noted exemplary examples of NRD officers in their service, however .it was noted that the officials lacked compassion and empathy in general. In addition the mono ethnic representation of the NRD and KDN as a whole is not reflective of the PM’s 1 Malaysian commitments.In this context Proham recommends a more people friendly approach to assist the applicants as well as ensuring a fair ethnic, cultural and linguistic mix among the NRD officers to be better reflective of Malaysian society. The ‘people first approach’ has to be realised with the NRD staffing and structure of service to the people especially among the disadvantaged and poor in Malaysian society.
Eight, Proham also notes that while Malaysia is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Malaysia has imposed a reservation to article 7 which ensures the right to every child below 18 to a name, nationality and not being categorised as stateless.Having this reservation could be construded as the unwillingness of the Malaysian government to resolve these concerns based on human rights and consistent to UN laws and instruments. It does contradicts Malaysians position as member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva
Proham strongly urges the Malaysian government to lift this reservation on Article 7 and ensure that every child below 18 in Malaysia is accorded with basic human rights and human dignity. Also that Malaysia as party to CRC will do what is necessary to fulfil these obligationsIn the light of the discussion on undocumented Malaysians, Proham calls upon the Federal Government especially the Prime Minister & the Minister of Home Affairs to establish an independent panel to undertake an exercise to review all undocumented cases Malaysians. This must be a priority prior to GE 13 - to ensure that every Malaysian has the basic human rights. The panel must incorporate both relevant federal agencies and all relevant civil society organisations especially those working on documentation concerns. The scope must review all current laws, procedures and forms used to ensure all these are consistent with the Federal Constitution and human rights. It will be also be appropriate to undertake a review of NRD in this process so as to ensure it reflects the PM's 1 Malaysia and People First agenda
Issued on behalf of Proham by:-Tan Sri Ramon Navartnam, Proham RTD Moderator and
Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Proham Secretary General.
Dec 21, 2012