The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 on unilateral conversion of minors to Islam is against the spirit of Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 on unilateral conversion of minors to Islam is against the spirit of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Malaysia has acceded to on 17 February 1995.
The purpose of the CRC is to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights for children, who needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not.
Article 18 of the CRC provides that:
States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.
As a party to the CRC, Malaysia recognizes that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. By allowing a minor to be converted to the religion of Islam with single parent’s consent, we are going to deny the non-converting parent from playing his/her role in the upbringing of the child.
By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention, Malaysia has committed ourselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and we have agreed to hold ourselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. We are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child. Unilateral conversion of minor will have huge impact on the development of the child hence should be reviewed and withdrawn immediately.