Suhakam, Indonesian counterpart ink MoU on statelessness issue in Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to address the issue of statelessness and persons at risk of statelessness in Sabah.

Under the MoU, Suhakam and Komnas HAM, together with the Commission on the Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), which was present at the signing ceremony as an observer, aim to collaborate in addressing issues related to statelessness in Sabah from a human rights perspective.

“Stateless people in Sabah mainly are of Filipino and Indonesian descent. Stateless persons are often denied the enjoyment of basic human rights such as equality before the law, right to work, right to education, right to healthcare, right to own property and they are at risk of becoming victims of crimes such as trafficking as well as harassment and exploitation,” said the national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in a joint statement yesterday.

Suhakam, Komnas HAM and CHRP will also work closely together with their respective governments on issues pertaining to stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness in Sabah and shall conduct joint research to understand and address the geopolitical nature and historical impetus of this issue.

“Documentation, either the absence of or lack of proper documentation, is a fundamental challenge faced by all stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness and this is primarily the case in Sabah.

“While the exact number of stateless persons, specifically stateless children in Malaysia is unknown, children born from illicit affairs and unrecognised marriages make up a large number of young people without any documentation. Sixty-eight per cent (381) of complaints made to Suhakam’s Sabah Office last year related to statelessness,” the statement said.

“Suhakam, Komnas HAM and CHRP aim to provide recommendations based on the collective findings and guided by relevant international human rights treaties, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Compact on Migration,” it said.