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A Revolutionary Move

NEW hope for mixed couples: their children could receive limited dual citizenship in Indonesia. This is one of the issues being discussed by the special committee deliberating the Citizenship Bill at the House of Representatives (DPR). "This bill is a breakthrough for the government and DPR special committee members in accommodating the interests of Indonesian women," said the Melati Mixed Marriage Families (KPC) Chairperson, Enggi Holt, last Monday.

On February 2, head of the special committee deliberating the bill, Slamet Efendy Yusuf, announced that the committee had decided to include provisions regarding limited dual citizenship in the Citizenship Bill in an attempt to eliminate discrimination against children of mixed marriages. "This is a revolutionary decision," said Slamet.

If the bill is approved, children from mixed marriages will be eligible to receive dual citizenship from both their father and mother, until they finally decide upon single citizenship. The committee is currently deciding upon the age limit for deciding single citizenship. The Melati KPC has suggested that children be granted dual citizenship until the age of 21.

At present, pursuant to Law No. 62/1958 on Indonesian Citizenship, any child of an Indonesian woman and foreign man is automatically regarded as a foreign national, based on the patriarchal principle of ius sanguinis, whereby the child follows the nationality of the father. Also, any Indonesian woman who marries a foreign national loses certain rights. For example, in accordance with Law No. 5/1960 on Agrarian Principles, such a woman cannot own land in the absence of a prenuptial agreement separating the assets of the married couple. The foreign husband is either considered a tourist or a foreign employee for immigration purposes.

The DPR is currently deliberating three bills related to citizenship, namely the Citizenship Bill, the Anti-Discrimination Bill and the Demographic Administration Bill. The latest stipulates a single identity card for every citizen. With this identity card, a Chinese Indonesian for example, is no longer required to obtain a Proof of Indonesian Citizenship Letter (SBKRI), even a birth certificate. The Citizenship Bill contains 36 provisions and is targeted for completing in early March.

Abdul Manan, Wahyu Dhyatmika

TEMPO, FEBRUARY 27, 2006-025/P. 31 Heading Law


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