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July 18, 2019

Citizenship not within the scope of Child Rights Bill

  • The laws on citizenship are tough in Myanmar. Only those born to Myanmar citizens are granted automatic citizenship under the country’s laws.
    The country has another category of citizens — naturalized citizens, who are required to strictly abide by the existing laws. Under the 1982 Citizenship Law, persons who entered the country prior to 4 January, 1948, and have been residing here, and their children born within the State, may apply for naturalized citizenship to the Central Body by furnishing conclusive evidence, if they have not already applied under the Union Citizenship Act, 1948.
    Today, some people staged protests against the Child Rights Bill without a clear understanding of the rules regarding birth registration, adoption, and citizenship.
    Adoption does not ensure citizenship in Myanmar. The granting of citizenship is governed by the State, in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law.
    It is clearly mentioned on every birth certificate in red lettering that it is not a certificate of citizenship.
    This means, the certificate is meant as a record of birth alone.
    Issuing a birth certificate does not imply citizenship. Birth registration and citizenship are mutually exclusive.
    Clause 22 of the Child Rights Bill states that children registered at birth will have the right to citizenship as enacted in the laws.
    Section 22 of the 1982 Citizenship Law states that a child registered at birth will have citizenship rights, in accordance with the law.
    Section 73 of the same law states that a child of foreign descent adopted by a citizen or associate citizen or naturalized citizen will not be considered a citizen, associate citizen, or naturalized citizen. Parents being citizens, associate citizens, or naturalized citizens doesn’t automatically make a child so.
    The Child Rights Bill and the issue of citizenship are unrelated. People’s worries about the bill today are related to the version of the bill submitted to the parliament in 2017. After debates in the parliament, the fact that the bill can override other laws was excluded in the final version of the bill, which has been submitted to the President for signing.
    Once a child is born, a birth certificate must be issued. To do that, we don’t need to take into consideration his clan, religion, and lineage. This is a basic concept of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our country is a signatory to the CRC. Everyone must accept this.

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