Monday, April 22

Stateless people: Need to amend Immigration Act, says Suhakam

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KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysia Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) sees the need for the government to amend the Immigration Act in order to address the issue of stateless people in Sabah.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said that out of 500 cases handled by Suhakam on an annual basis, 80 percent were related to stateless individuals.

All the cases were never settled, he said.

“Issues that are related to documentation are difficult to resolve. When we receive such cases, we will remit them to the National Registration Department and they will give us an answer that provides no solution. Documentation issues cannot move forward,” he said.

“We have to look at the available laws. If we do not amend them or the policies, it will be like this forever, without any solution. There are many questions but no answers to them,” he said.

Nevertheless, he hoped that the meeting with the Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Haji Apdal, will be a good start as the Chief Minister will send the list of cases to the State Secretary and his office will work with Suhakam to find a solution, he said.

Jerald said the Chief Minister, whom they met at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday, had asked them to be pragmatic in resolving the documentation issue.

“If there are stateless individuals who need to be referred to the Philippines consulate, for example, or Indonesia, we can find the means to speed up the documentation issuance.

“When the document is ready, they (the stateless individuals) can work legally,” he said.

Other issues received by Suhakam are land-related, and 30 percent of cases presented to them had been resolved last year.