CSO Platform for Reform, a coalition of concerned civil society organisations committed to upholding the human rights of all individuals, express our deep concern about the shocking news of infants of stateless mothers in Sabah hospitals being forcibly taken away and given up for adoption.
We also urges that the Sabah Health Department to investigate these incidences with urgency and full transparency and accountability.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Malaysia is a signatory, emphasises the paramount importance of the best interests of the child (Article 3) and the right to protection from all forms of exploitation (Article 36). It is incumbent upon the Sabah Health Department to ensure the protection and fulfilment of these fundamental rights for every child, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.
Hence, the case of stateless mothers losing their newborns in Sabah government hospitals contravenes the principles and obligations set forth by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We strongly urge the Sabah Health Department to conduct a thorough investigation into these cases and to take immediate action to rectify any violations of the rights of these vulnerable children and their families.
The exposé of the tragic case of a stateless boy with HIV who passed away after being deprived treatment for years in a Sabah hospital is an indicator of the urgent need to address the plight of stateless individuals, especially children. As children, their access to the most basic of access and rights should come before any political status that affects them. This tragic incident underscores the necessity for immediate action to provide equitable healthcare access and to eradicate discrimination against stateless individuals within the healthcare system.
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Sabah’s statelessness problem demands a balanced approach that upholds human rights and equally addresses the economic concerns of the state. While Sabah’s economic concerns around the issue of statelessness are vast, they should not be a justification for compromising the fundamental rights of individuals, particularly children.
As the state continually refuses to address the stateless communities in Sabah that threatens to overwhelm the local population, it not only loses a potential source of revenue through the collection of taxes. By enabling these communities to subsist purely on undeclared cash, we unwittingly support the continuance of a black market. By failing to recognise these communities, we cause a cascading effect of human rights crises, further pushing these communities into desperation.
Therefore, based on the Malaysiakini article, we call upon the Sabah Health Department to:
- Transparently and thoroughly investigate the allegations of baby snatching from stateless mothers in Sabah government hospitals and take appropriate actions based on the findings
- Ensure that the investigation is in line with the principles of fairness, impartiality and adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- If the allegations are found to be untrue, openly refute and clarify the matter to prevent any unwarranted damage to the reputation of the healthcare system
- Prioritise equitable healthcare access and take immediate steps to eradicate all forms of discrimination against stateless individuals within the healthcare system. Every person, regardless of their legal status, deserves equal and dignified healthcare
The rights of every child, irrespective of their circumstances, must be protected, and we stand united in urging the Sabah Health Department to fulfil its duty to safeguard these rights. – CSO Platform for Reform