‘Life-saving’: SWWS lauds decision to issue temporary documentation to stateless children

Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) logo

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KUCHING, April 11: The Sarawak government’s decision to issue temporary documentation to stateless children has been welcomed as a life-saving measure.

According to Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) president Angie Garet, the decision will ease these children’s access to healthcare and education while their application for citizenship is being processed.

“Without education and healthcare, we are failing children—blighting their development and creating future problems for them and the country,” she said in a statement today.

She also pointed out that there needs to be a similar commitment at the federal level and both the Sarawak and federal governments need to work together to achieve the objective.

“The State is in an ideal position to understand the local context and assist in the process as many applicants have genuine reasons why their ancestors do not have the standard documentation expected today, due to lack of access and following indigenous traditions, while the federal government has the ultimate authority to decide who is a citizen,” she added.

On April 9, Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said a special committee would be set up to review applications and eligibility for temporary documentation to enable stateless children under the age of 21 to have access to education and health facilities in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, SWWS also called on relevant federal ministries to recognise Sarawak’s temporary documentation for stateless children to enable the latter to enter school and receive healthcare while their applications are being processed.

The association called on the Home Ministry to have a more efficient, transparent application process.

It said the current one is slow, rarely grants citizenship and when rejecting does not give the reasons, making it hard and expensive for people to appeal, especially the poor and those living in Sarawak’s remote areas.

“When we are talking about children, every month without schooling has an impact and every obstacle to healthcare could cause a death.

“Sarawak is trying to rectify this situation but needs all parties to play their part. SWWS looks forward to speedy implementation of this progressive policy by all relevant ministries,” it said. — DayakDaily