Suhakam children’s commissioner Noor Aziah Mohd Awal has applauded the recent High Court decision ruling that Malaysian mothers have the right to confer citizenship to their children born overseas on an equal basis as Malaysian men.
Citing various child rights principles, Aziah said the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) closely monitored the case since it was initially filed in 2020.
“It is also in the best interest of children as provided under Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), that children who were born abroad by a Malaysian mother should be granted Malaysian citizenship regardless of the father's nationality.
“The fact is, uncertainties related to the legal status of a child born overseas to a Malaysian mother married to a foreigner leads to immediate and long-term effects throughout his or her life," she said in a statement.
Aziah listed denial of birth registration due to the absence of a foreign parent who may not be in the country, and denial or difficulties in renewing, extending, or applying for visas as some of the challenges faced by these children and their Malaysian mothers.
“The absence of either may cause a child to be vulnerable, which eradicates all the rights the child deserves similar to other Malaysian children, especially access to public education and healthcare,” she added.
On Sept 9, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and foreign fathers are automatically entitled to Malaysian citizenship.
The legal action was initially filed by six Malaysian mothers and rights group Family Frontiers on Dec 18 last year.
Aziah said that the High Court landmark decision has a very important implication to the progress of children’s rights in the country.
“The High Court landmark decision sets a precedent that upholds the principles of equality aligned with the international conventions to which Malaysia is a signatory, as well as the principles laid down in the Federal Constitution.
“The decision has clearly paved the way for a brighter and fair future for all children born to a Malaysian parent married to a non-Malaysian, irrespective of gender,” she added.