Govt finalizing implementation of citizenship law

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The much applauded Citizenship Law passed in July is yet to be workable because it lacks the necessary ancillary government regulations.

The absence of the regulations has sparked complaints from transnational couples who have long hung their hopes on benefiting from the law.

Two new ministerial decrees issued in connection with the law did not detail fees for services to obtain Indonesian citizenship.

The law has been warmly welcomed by transnational couples because it recognizes a child born to an Indonesian mother married to a foreigner as an Indonesian citizen until the child reaches the age of 18, when the child can choose his or her citizenship. In the past, the child would automatically take on the father's citizenship.

Head of KPC Melati (Melati transnational marriage community), Enggi Holt, said that although the Justice and Human Rights Ministry had guaranteed Indonesian citizenship for children of transnational couples, the administrative procedures to obtain the papers remained tangled in corrupt practices.

"We highly praise the government's effort to enact the law, but without clear-cut technical guidelines to implement it, those regulations wouldn't mean much to us," she said when attending a gathering to break the fast at the ministry last week.

The ministry has issued two regulations regarding applications for Indonesian citizenship, including granting Indonesian citizenship to children of transnational couples and the status of Indonesians who have resided abroad for an extended period.

The regulations stipulate that Indonesians who have lost their citizenship because they neglected to report to the Indonesian missions abroad for more than five years can reapply for Indonesian citizenship after filling out forms made available at Indonesian embassies and consulates abroad.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin said that the ministry was still drafting several other supporting regulations, including ones on fees required for citizenship registration.

"We are revising our non-tax income regulation so that it mentions the fees to obtain Indonesian citizenship," he said.

He urged all transnational couples to report to the authorities any corrupt practices they experience when dealing with government officials. He said the law also mandates legal actions against corrupt officials.
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