Mar 01 23:32

RI ready to make drastic changes to citizenships law

Washington (Antara News) - The Indonesian government is ready to make drastic changes to its citizenship law in adjustment to present-day conditions, Legal and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin said here on Tuesday.

"We are going to make revolutionary changes to our citizenship law," the minister said in a discussion with members of the Indonesian community living in the US at the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC.

He said there were many "oddities" in the existing citizenship law that was made in 1958.

"The 1958-made law that we are using today was created using the security approach," Hamid said in the discussion which was moderated by Indonesian Abassador to the United States Sudjadnan Parnohadinigrat.

Hamid said the way of thinking about the citizenship legal foundation should not be set on the security matter alone but also on flexibility about how to step up the pace of economic development.

He said if an Indonesian woman gets married with a man from a foreign country, she, her husband and children can remain in the country with foreign nationality status. If they want to have their visa extended, they have to return to the man`s country to have it done before reentering Indonesia.

With the new citizenship law, Hamid said the visa extension can be made at home.

"And a foreigner who invests in Indonesia can directly be granted the status of permanent resident according to the envisaged new law in order to attract other foreign investors," the minister said.

He said the plan of Legal and Human Rights Minister had been discussed with the House of Representatives (DPR).

Other radical changes would affect immigration affairs including the making of passports, Hamid said.

"Our passports are easily falsified, and a particular person can even have more than one passport because he or she is able to obtain citizen`s or identity card," Hamid added.

But with the new system of having a passport made with an on-line system and fingerprints, it would be difficult for a person to falsify his passport.

Another immigration policy, he said, was that Indonesian nationals who have been in Malaysia for more than ten years can be given passports.

Hamid said there were more than 20,000 Indonesians abroad who did not have legal immigration documents.

"Our citizenship philosophy is that stateless people should no longer exist. Therefore, we have to give them passports through certain process, of course," Hamid noted.

Hamid was in Washington DC at the invitation of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss human rights and immigration issues. (*)
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