State­less chil­dren is a na­tional dis­grace

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

It is noth­ing short of a na­tional dis­grace that the Mal­tese govern­ment is will­ing to bend over back­wards and defy its agree­ment with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for peo­ple who are able to pay hun­dreds of thou­sands of eu­ros to ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship, while at the same time it leaves chil­dren born in Malta state­less.

Par­tit Demokratiku, quite rightly, raised the is­sue of the Malian na­tion­als who are fac­ing im­mi­nent de­por­ta­tion, in­clud­ing chil­dren who were born in Malta.

The party high­lighted that th­ese chil­dren should be treated as Mal­tese cit­i­zens, and this news­pa­per would go one step fur­ther and urge that they are given Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship be­cause no one, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, should be left state­less.

Af­ter all, th­ese chil­dren are Mal­tese for all in­tents and pur­poses: they were born in Malta, they have fully in­te­grated into Mal­tese so­ci­ety in ways that their par­ents never could, they have never even seen their par­ents’ home­land and they go to school in Malta and they are friends of our own chil­dren.

De­port­ing th­ese chil­dren would leave an in­deli­ble stain on the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion – at

Editor’s pick

home and abroad alike. Th­ese are ba­sic hu­man rights that the coun­try is morally, if not legally, obliged to up­hold.

There is a se­ri­ous la­cuna in the coun­try’s leg­is­la­tion, and it is one that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has for too long now been re­quest­ing Malta to fill.

The prob­lem has been flagged time and time again. For ex­am­ple, none other than the United Na­tions Com­mit­tee on the Rights of the Child has ex­pressed grave con­cern about cases of chil­dren, mostly with re­spect to the chil­dren of ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants, who are not pro­vided with birth reg­is­tra­tion.

The Com­mit­tee has stressed its con­cern that there is no pro­vi­sion in the Cit­i­zen­ship Act for the ac­qui­si­tion of Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ship by a child born in Malta who would not be el­i­gi­ble for cit­i­zen­ship of any other coun­try be­cause of its par­ents’ life sit­u­a­tion.

It urged Malta to “en­sure that all chil­dren born in its ter­ri­tory are reg­is­tered at birth, re­gard­less of the sta­tus of their par­ents, with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to chil­dren in sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies and/or ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion sit­u­a­tions”.

It also called on Malta to “en­sure that a child born in Malta to par­ents who are for­eign­ers, but un­able to pass on their na­tion­al­ity, or to par­ents who them­selves are state­less or whose na­tion­al­ity is un­known, is granted cit­i­zen­ship.”

But such pleas have con­tin­u­ally fallen on deaf ears, and the coun­try sim­ply can­not al­low this sit­u­a­tion to per­sist.

There is some­thing in­trin­si­cally in­con­gru­ous when you have a govern­ment that does not bat an eye­lid when it is crit­i­cised for its pro­gramme of selling Mal­tese cit­i­zen­ships to the wealthy on the one hand, and deny­ing the un­der­priv­i­leged the means by which to ad­dress their state­less­ness.

The Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter re­cently told the me­dia that were Malta to sign the United Na­tions’ 1954 and 1961 con­ven­tions on state­less­ness – key in­stru­ments in the pro­tec­tion of fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights of state­less per­sons – hu­man re­sources would be strained and the sys­tem would be­come clogged up with so many more ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants claim­ing they are state­less.

The fact re­mains that there are chil­dren be­ing born state­less in Malta is en­tirely un­ac­cept­able in this day and age.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.