The Con­fer­ence On State­less­ness And Birth Reg­is­tra­tion

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By Staff Cor­re­spon­dent

The Con­fer­ence on State­less­ness and Birth Reg­is­tra­tion was held at the Na­tional As­sem­bly hall in Seoul cap­i­tal city on 8 Novem­ber 2013. Co-or­ga­niz­ers of the con­fer­ence were Save the Chil­dren, the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Re­pub­lic of Korea and the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion of Korea. Ap­prox­i­mately 300 peo­ple at­tended the meet­ing.

At the Spe­cial Speech by Byeong-se­ung Park, the Vice Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly, in 2001, South Korea Com­mis­sion was asked for the birth reg­is­tra­tion of state­less chil­dren. It should in­clude the right to ed­u­ca­tion to all chil­dren. He ex­pressed sadly those un­reg­is­tered chil­dren can­not go for pic­nic with other stu­dents. There are about 1.4 mil­lion for­eign­ers liv­ing in South Korea in 2014.

The main speaker at the con­fer­ence, Mark Manly, Head of the state­less Unit of UNHCR, pre­sented an over­view of the im­por­tance and le­gal ba­sis for preven­tion and re­duc­tion of state­less­ness. He de­scribed the def­i­ni­tion of a state­less per­son in in­ter­na­tional law: some­one who is not con­sid­ered as a na­tional by any state un­der the op­er­a­tion of its law.

There are at least 10 mil­lion state­less peo­ple world­wide, and the largest known pop­u­la­tions are found in Myan­mar (800,000), Cote d’lvoire (700,000), Thai­land, Syria, Latvia and so on. Mainly, peo­ple are state­less be­cause of ten­sions be­tween states, be­cause of con­flicts, etc., Mark said. UNHCR’s Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee re­cently adopted a con­clu­sion on Civil Reg­is­tra­tion (with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Re­pub­lic of Korea). This urges states to en­sure civil reg­is­tra­tion and em­pha­sizes that ev­ery child shall be reg­is­tered im­me­di­ately af­ter birth with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind.

An­other speaker, Prof. Chul­hyo Kim, from the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, pointed out one of the cru­cial prob­lems for a state­less per­son is “no de­ter­mi­na­tion pro­ce­dure in Korea”. A fam­ily liv­ing in Korea can reg­is­ter birth reg­is­tra­tion, for that, South Korea gov­ern­ment does have sup­port such as to il­le­gal mi­grants but never pro­vides recog­ni­tion. Prof. Chul­hyo Kim sug­gests pro­ce­dures such as is­su­ing cer­tifi­cates, to give a chance of nat­u­ral­iza­tion, and to in­tro­duce a new reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem in South Korea.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cer Junho Jang, Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tor, Of­fice of Le­gal Coun­sel, Min­istry of Jus­tice said it is dif­fi­cult for South Korea to over­come their cur­rent bu­reau­cratic pro­ce­dures, such as a shift to a reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem in­stead of a dec­la­ra­tion sys­tem. As he men­tioned, the depart­ment of the min­istry of jus­tice is com­pli­cated, so, the ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion can be done by the Supreme Court, and also needs to be sup­ported by the min­istry of se­cu­rity and pub­lic re­la­tions. It is known that the Min­istry of Jus­tice is im­prov­ing the elec­tronic sys­tem for reg­is­tra­tion.

Ad­vo­ca­tor Youn­gah Park, At­tor­ney at Law, Gong-Gam spoke out against the in­ept sys­tem in South Korea, de­scrib­ing it as a fam­ily na­tion­al­ity based birth reg­is­tra­tion.

She men­tioned a need for a sep­a­rate reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem for mi­grants.

Jong-Chul Kim, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor and At­tor­ney of Law, APIL also men­tioned Korean law does not al­low for birth reg­is­tra­tion for those not of Korean na­tion­al­ity.

Mark Manly pre­sented a sec­ond piece of re­search on those who are state­less in South Korea: find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions. He found in South Korea, there was a de­pri­va­tion of na­tion­al­ity of those in “sham mar­riages.” Upon dis­cov­ery of false mar­riages, those who are in­volved are de­prived of their South Korea na­tion­al­ity and left state­less, un­able to reac­quire Chi­nese na­tion­al­ity for the Chi­nese mi­grant vic­tims.

An­other case was un­reg­is­tered chil­dren of refugees and unau­tho­rized mi­grants and chil­dren born out­side of mar­riage. At their re­spec­tive em­bassy of­fices, some diplo­mat mis­sions refuse to reg­is­ter chil­dren of unau­tho­rized mi­grants, or im­pose upon them high reg­is­tra­tion costs. More­over, Mark said it was dif­fi­cult to rely on South Korea’s of­fi­cial statis­tics be­cause there is no le­gal def­i­ni­tion of a state­less per­son in South Korean’s law. Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­view with the Min­istry of Jus­tice in Septem­ber, 2012, there are 183 state­less per­sons in South Korea: 97 who were state­less at the time of en­try in South Korea; 51 state­less due to sham mar­riages; 19 state­less due to fail­ing to re­nounce a for­eign na­tion­al­ity; 11 who were res­i­dents es­cap­ing from North Korea but clas­si­fied as Chi­nese; 5 in ‘oth­ers’ cat­e­gory.

Mark pro­vides rec­om­men­da­tions to South Korea, such as to in­clude a def­i­ni­tion of ‘state­less per­son’ which is in line with Ar­ti­cle 1(1) of the 1954 Con­ven­tion; es­tab­lish a state­less­ness de­ter­mi­na­tion pro­ce­dure to iden­tify state­less per­sons and to en­sure com­pli­ance with South Korea’s obli­ga­tions un­der the 1954 con­ven­tion; and to im­ple­ment a uni­ver­sal birth reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem to avoid bar­ri­ers to birth reg­is­tra­tion for chil­dren of for­eign­ers born in South Korea.

Dirk He­becker, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of UNHCR

Byeong Seug Park,

Vice Pres­i­dent of Na­tioanl As­sem­bly

of South Korea

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