“Kudos, Sabah!”: SUHAKAM lauds state govt’s temporary shelter for stateless children

THE Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has lauded the Sabah state government’s plan to establish temporary shelter for stateless children from the Pala’u community in Kota Kinabalu. 

According to a Malaysiakini report, the operation is expected to start by end-2022 where the children, mostly homeless, are expected to be trained in basic living skills.  

SUHAKAM chairman Profesor Datuk Dr Rahmat Mohamad was quoted as saying that the initiative was much needed because statelessness adversely impacts children.  

“Undocumented children always suffer from discrimination and are denied basic rights as they are unable to access formal education and medical care, and they are at a higher risk of child labour and human trafficking,” the news portal reported him as saying.  

“They may also be at risk of being arrested or detained by the authorities, especially if they are seen begging or loitering in public areas.” 

In 2017, the Home Ministry reported that Sabah has the highest number of children or young adults who were born stateless.  

The National Registration Department’s (NRD) data indicated that Sabah has 23,154 stateless individuals who are currently under 21 and at least one of their parents is a Malaysian citizen. 

Sabah alone accounts for more than half of the 43,445 individuals facing this dire situation (as of Oct 13, 2017) of which 436 individuals were from Labuan. 

Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), where it is written in Article 2 that the state is responsible for protecting children from all forms of discrimination. 

In 2019, SUHAKAM signed a memorandum of understanding with its counterparts in Indonesia and the Philippines to address the issue of statelessness in Sabah and to pave the way to cross-border cooperation with other national human rights institutions. 

On the temporary shelter for stateless children in Sabah, Rahmat expressed hopes that the country is moving towards intensifying its efforts in reducing or ending the statelessness of children.  

“We will continue to advise, monitor, and work with the government to achieve greater complaints resolution rate in particular on the issues related to the statelessness in Sabah,” he remarked. – Nov 30, 2022 


Main photo credit: Malay Mail

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