Lawmakers want empowerment of children's rights

12 Jun 2023 09:18pm
For illustration purposes only - Photo: 123RF
For illustration purposes only - Photo: 123RF

KUALA LUMPUR - Issues related to the welfare of children and empowerment of their rights are among the matters raised by lawmakers during the debate of the 2022 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman (PN-Sik) said the detention of refugee children and families should be ended by implementing initiatives such as the Alternative to Detention (ATD) pilot programme that the government had previously introduced.

He said the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry as well as the Home Affairs Ministry should immediately implement the ATD programme and review the programme’s scope and criteria to incorporate other resolutions in addition to repatriation.

ATD provides temporary shelter for unaccompanied and separated children under detention.

He said the detention of children at the immigration detention depots should discontinue because it is detrimental to the mental and physical health of the children.

"In addition, it also affects our economy where immigration detention is 90 per cent more expensive than alternative care programmes that provide protection and care to refugee children and community in Malaysia," he said.

On the prolonged issue of children’s citizenship, Datuk Seri Madius Tangau (PH-Tuaran) said the marriage among the Sabah and Sarawak indigenous people according to their customary laws caused their children to be unregistered.

"Those without a birth certificate continue to be denied citizenship even though the sophisticated test of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) available today can confirm their biological relationship with their mother or father or close relatives.

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"Children to mothers who are citizens are denied their rights to get citizenship because the law favours the father not the mother,” he said, suggesting the Home Affairs Minister use his prerogative to amend the rules to facilitate the process.

Dr Abd Ghani Ahmad (PN-Jerlun) said the recommendations submitted by Suhakam in empowering the National Council for Children should be given attention by increasing the number of children as its members to facilitate the channelling of issues related to children to the authorities.

The sitting continues tomorrow. - BERNAMA

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