Ensuring Refugee Children’s Rights

Proposer:

CSO Platform For Reform – Child Cluster

Affiliations:

Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM)

Policy Code:

2e Child

Problem Statement / Issue:

1. Despite Malaysia’s ratification of CRC, CEDAW and the existence of Child Act 2001, SOACA,
Domestic Violence Act 1994, anti-trafficking and labour laws to protect children, refugee
children continue to experience discriminatory access to national child protection systems
and services, including education, healthcare systems and vaccinations.
2. Refugee children face arrest, detention, deportation, abuse, neglect, exploitation including
child marriage, statutory rape, online crimes, poverty and mental health issues.
3. Poor community structures, harmful traditional practices and limited service providers
availing services to this population exacerbate the vulnerabilities of refugee children.
4. During the Covid-19 crisis, refugee children experienced xenophobia, unsafe care
arrangements, constraints with livelihood, food aid and accessing helplines due to their
illegal status, language barrier and poor awareness on refugee issues.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Include refugee children in national action plans, programmes and services on child protection
prevention and response. Allow them non-discriminatory access to Child Protectors and Assistants,
D11, national education and healthcare including SCAN, psychosocial, welfare, comprehensive
sexuality education and services, justice, case management and income generating activities for
their families.

Proposal of Solution and Call to Action:

1. Ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention Relating and 1967 Protocol, withdraw all reservations to
the CRC (Article 2 and 37), harmonize Immigration Act with Child Act 2001, SOACA and
anti-trafficking laws, CRC (Article 22), CEDAW to prevent immigration offences, arrest,
detention and deportation of refugee.
2. Amplify evidence-based and action-oriented research on refugee children
3. Provide alternatives to detention, particularly non-institutionalised care for all children
including refugees and their families.
4. Institutionalise dialogues, regular awareness raising and capacity building on refugee issues,
relevant laws and policies, best interest procedure and determination, confidential reporting
mechanisms with all stakeholders to maximize resources, enable fair access, strengthen
quality of services and ensure perpetrators are convicted and punished.
5. Avail interpretation services and child friendly, gender sensitive, culturally appropriate
information, education and communication materials in refugee languages on protection
and support services.
6. Establish an interagency disaggregated data collection mechanism on refugee children with
police, JKM, hospitals, NGOs, UN agencies, schools, community-based organisations and
learning centres.
7. Include refugee children in child parliament or child participation groups to nurture their
participation in programming and policymaking processes and decisions.

Translation

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