Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I went grocery shopping

these are my supplies for the week :) ok ok Ill try to make them last longer than a week.......


Undocumented, unregistered, forgotten

“Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.”

This is a statement from Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that clearly states the right of the child to an identity.

Yet millions of persons remain stateless. According to UNICEF figures close to 50 Million people worldwide are “international orphans” – people without citizenship or nationality. The issue is one that is prevalent in every region in the world, in varying forms and degrees. These people are in theory stateless, and legally they do not even exist!

Now imagine you are an unregistered child. If you are lucky, you have been immunized, receive health care and go to school. However, as you grow older, you will find the lack of a birth certificate increasingly burdensome. You will be unable to sit for national examinations or go on to university. You will be unable to get a social security number to confirm your eligibility to work. You will be unable to get a passport so that you can travel. Eventually you will work your way through all the bureaucracy, but the process will be very costly and complex, and you will wish your parents had registered you at birth. You will wish you had a birth certificate.

The problem of statelessness is not exclusive and exists in all parts of the world. In Malaysia the groups without documents include the Orang Asli, children of migrant Philippines, and those whose parents do not have or cannot prove any form of identity. Most are of ethnic Indian origin who have been in the country for generations, but till today, are not recognized as citizens.

Their forefathers and succeeding generations worked in plantations and lived their entire lives within these estates. Yet despite their active economic and cultural contribution to society, they are not recognised by the law, and thus denied their basic rights. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation together with our partner ERA Consumer Malaysia as part of our minority women empowerment project has done extensive work to highlight this problem to relevant authorities and publicising the issue through various media. The Community Centres operated as part of the project have assisted individuals with the process of obtaining legal documents, and at the same time awareness seminars have been conducted at the district and state levels.

Malaysia has one of the highest registration rate, at about 94 per cent. It is the last 6 miles that is hard, yet most crucial as usually these tend to be the most vulnerable and disadvantaged that are left out.

The issue of the stateless Malaysians should concern all citizens because of their growing numbers. Lack of legal identification lead to unequal employment opportunities or any kind of employment at all, related socio-economic hardship, violation of human rights that include access to basic education, health care, freedom of movement, access to political processes, amongst others. On the whole these factors restrict not only personal development of the concerned group, but also their productive contribution to the socio-economic advancement of the country.

Many are also living in fear of being seen and questioned by authority. The fear of deportation is particularly worrisome for the stateless Indian Malaysians, as the question is where would they be deported to? They were born in the country and have lived in Malaysia for generations. Malaysia is their home, it is all they know.


Identity a fundamental Right

The right to a nationality is so fundamental that its deprivation is considered a deprivation of human rights. There are millions who are living without any legal existence. In the eye of the law, these people do not exist! What this means is no matter how many improvements we make to laws and policies, or how much lobbying at domestic or international levels, there will be a large group of people who will still continue to go unprotected, as they do not have even the very first right -- a right to an identity.

Many benefits and access to other rights are so dependent on documents in today’s world. An identity card is often requested before a child can go to school, get health care when sick, or seek any legal protection. Without this legal document the child’s development is restricted, leading to social ills such as lack of education, which in turn obstruct productive employment.

Yet certain groups of people are left out and not recognised by any country. The problems associated with being ‘undocumented’ or ‘unregistered’ which leads to statelessness are doubly detrimental for the poor, rural, ethnic and marginalised groups who tend to form the bulk of those left out.

The causes vary from technical reasons, where the systems may not be able to reach out to all areas in the country; implementation at the local level; lack of awareness for the need of legal documentation, or simply because people do not see the importance or the need for such papers.

There are also instances where culture plays a role, such as a father who registers only the boys, while girls are left out of the system. The next generation of those under the non-registration category also became stateless as a result, compounding the problem.

There are two international legal instruments dealing with statelessness which include the 1954 and 1962 Conventions. However the problem with these instruments is that only a small number of States have ratified them, 57 and 30 respectively. What this illustrates is the need to give the issue the political priority it deserves and collaboration with government is needed to address the issue of statelessness.

To address the issue an integrated approach of simplified registration process, in particular those involving late registration, coupled with awareness raising campaigns for both the public and government officers dealing with registration process are crucial.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

First things First

Ive been away from this for a while, too many things happening/happened. Anyway, following on one of the last posts, it might be appropriate to mention I was away in Germany for 2 weeks (followed by almost a week in Holland and a couple of days in Brussels). This would in one shot explain 1) why I had disappeared for a little while, but 2) most do not assume I failed the test hehehe. so yes I did get on that course I was doing online....and the best part was...all expenses paid! and ohhh in case anyone didnt notice....the World Cup was in Germany!! and yes I was there right during the games!
lots of fun to follow....maybe....
we shall see
but for now welcome back me :)