Tuesday, March 12, 2013

International Covenants must be abided by the Government and our Courts must enforce them.

Media Statement by M.Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at the Ipoh High Court on 12thMarch2013

International Covenants must be abided by the Government and our Courts must enforce them.

Indira Gandhi married her husband Patmanathan in 1993 according to Hindu rites. They have 3 children.
The eldest child, a girl is now 16 years old, the second, a boy, is 15 years old and the youngest is 5 years old.
Indria and her husband started to have marital problems for sometime. As a result on 11th March 2009, he converted to Islam and adopted his new name as Muhammad Riduan Bin Abdullah

On 2nd April 2009, three children of the family were also converted into Islam by their father Patmanathan at the Bahagian Dakwah, Jabatan Agama Islam, Ipoh, Perak.
The conversion was without the knowledge and or consent of the children or Indira.

There after the family got separated and the husband took the youngest child of the family and went missing. He is still hiding at an undisclosed location.

In the mean time, Muhammad Riduan Bin Abdullah filed an application at the Syariah High Court in Ipoh and obtained an interim order of custody of the 3 children. Indira had no knowledge of this case.

Subsequently, she filed an application and after numerous hearings, the Ipoh Civil High Court gave order of custody on May 2010. The decision was not disturbed by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
He has not adhered to the Court’s order in that the youngest child has not been handed over to Indira.

The husband has no permanent employment and has been willfully avoiding in handing over of the youngest child to the mother. The two elder children are schooling and living with the mother who works as a kindergarten teacher.

On 9th June 2009, Indira filed a motion at the High Court to quash the decision of the Syariah Court dated 8th April 2009 which Court had given custody and control of the 3 children to Muhammad Riduan Bin Abdullah.
On 28th July 2010, the Ipoh Civil High Court gave leave to quash the decision of the Syariah Court to Indira notwithstanding to the strenuous objections from the Attorney General‘s office. The panel of Lawyers for Indira is Mr. K.Shanmuga, En.Farid Azat, N.Selvam, and M.Kula.
After this matter was raised in Parliament by me, the Cabinet in April 2009 decided that the children of parents where one of them opts to convert must be raised in the common religion at the time of marriage.
 The news report dated 24 thApril, 2009 says: -
 Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri said it was decided in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a spouse who has converted into Islam would also have to fulfil his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil marriage laws. 
“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape marriage responsibilities. Conversion is not a ground for the automatic dissolution of a marriage,” he said at a press conference at Parliament building Thursday.
“The children should be brought up in the common religion. For the spouse who intends to convert into Islam, he or she would also have to come clean,” he said.
Nazri said religious conversion must come with the innocent party being protected from being victimized, as well as protection being afforded to the new religion of the converted person. 
“Civil marriages have to be resolved according to civil laws. The conversion takes effect on the day of conversion and is not retrospective. “The convert would have to fulfill his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil laws prior to the conversion,” he added. 
Nazri also said the Cabinet has instructed the Attorney-General to look at all relevant laws which needed to be amended in line with what has been decided on civil marriage laws and others.
To date the Attorney General and the Government have not amended any laws to bring a clear cut certainty on conversion to Islam cases.  

To day the Ipoh High Court is to hear the application to quash the Syariah Court‘s decision. An important aspect of the hearing would be the applicability and enforceability of the international covenants. The covenants are whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are binding on Malaysian courts?
It would be in the right direction for our courts to be bold and to enforce the international covenants as Malaysia itself is a voting member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

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