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Friday, January 31, 2020

High Court to review stateless minor's illegal immigrant charge


A stateless child who is now under immigration detention might see a silver lining soon, as the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today agreed to review her conviction for entering the country illegally.
According to lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali decided to recall documents from the Sessions Court to make an inquiry into what had happened in the lower court.
This came after Justice Nazlan heard an application by the girl, who was born to a Malaysian father and is now 17, seeking to quash the conviction and her guilty plea at the Sepang Sessions Court in July 2019.

Sangeet told Malaysiakini that the girl was only 16 years and 10 months old when she pleaded guilty in court, without having any legal representation nor her family with her.
According to the lawyer, the girl did not know what would be the consequences of her plea at that time.
"What has happened today was that the court has agreed it will call up documents from (the Sepang) Sessions Court because it wants to look at them and make an inquiry into what happened in the Sessions Court.
"Because the issue now is whether her guilty plea and the conviction by the Sessions Court are safe. That is the application for revision.
"The fact we are saying is that she is a minor, she didn't have legal representation and her family wasn't there (when she made the guilty plea).
"So these are matters pertinent that the court must look into. And we think the court has rightly agreed to call up the documents from the Sessions Court," Sangeet said.
The lawyer said following the conviction on July 1, 2019, the girl was slapped with a deportation order to Indonesia and a detention order until her deportation.
Sangeet (above) said they have also applied for these orders to be set aside through a habeas corpus application, which was also heard by Justice Nazlan this morning.
Speaking about the girl's case, Sangeet said her client was born to a Malaysian father and an Indonesian mother, who were legally married in Indonesia.
Affidavits submitted to the court state that the girl was born at a maternity home in Malacca on Oct 22, 2002.
The mother had left the girl with her father, now 81, in 2006 when she was four years old. The girl, together with her biological elder brother, was since raised by the single father.
Documents showing that she had attended Year One at a school in Muar and immunisation records with the Health Ministry were also produced to the court to show that the girl has been living in Malaysia. 
She, however, could only attend Year One at the school before having to leave due to lack of identification documents.
According to the written submission by her lawyers, the girl's father had admitted that he had failed to register his daughter's birth due to his own lack of knowledge and responsible attitude.
The girl moved to the Klang Valley early last year to work, before she was arrested by the Immigration Department on June 18 and subsequently charged in the Sessions Court under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act.
According to Sangeet, they are not disputing the fact that her client does not have any documentation to prove that she is a citizen.
However, she added, this only made the girl stateless and not an illegal immigrant as she was charged at the lower court.
"Article 14(1) of the Federal Constitution says that if you are born to a Malaysian parent, either one, you shall be a citizen.
"I accept that she doesn't have documentation to record her citizenship. That makes her stateless, but that doesn't make her an illegal immigrant.
"There is a distinction. And that absolutely doesn't make her Indonesian," she said.
Sangeet added that the court has set Feb 14 to hear the case and also deliver a decision on the girl's application to set aside her deportation and detention order. - Mkini

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