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Revision to Citizenship Law Imposes More Restrictions

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The Jakarta Post
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta

American researcher and analyst on good governance Sidney Jones in May sent an Email to her Indonesian colleague senior journalist Goenawan Mohamad that if U.S. President George W. Bush were to be reelected in November, she would become an Indonesian citizen.

She is, however, unlikely to keep her word, given that she was deported from the country.

Indonesian law allows foreigners to apply for citizenship with some conditions, including the length of stay of the applicant in the country.

The existing citizenship Law No. 62/1958 states that foreigners can apply for Indonesian citizenship if they have been living in the country for a consecutive period of at least five years, or 10 years not consecutively.

Legislators, however, recently submitted a draft revision of the citizenship law. The draft, among other things, increases the mandatory length of stay to 15 years.

Under the existing law, Jones may be eligible for citizenship.

Article 8 of the draft revision says that foreigners must have been living in Indonesia for a consecutive term of at least 15 years, or 20 years not consecutively, before they can apply for citizenship.

Besides which, the foreigner must speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently and have sufficient knowledge of Indonesia's Constitution and history.

The foreigner must not have committed any crime that is punishable with a minimum of one year in prison in Indonesia. Most importantly, they must have a permanent job and income.

The draft revision also suggests that the application be submitted to the President via the justice minister, while the existing citizenship law says it is enough to submit the application to the minister via a district court.

The President must decide whether to approve the application within three months after the request is made.

The existing citizenship law adopts universal principles: First, the state has the ultimate right to determine who can be granted citizenship, and who will lose it; second, the state cannot interfere with the citizenship regulations of other countries; and third, citizenship must be granted based on certain criteria.

In addition, the law also adopts two other principles from which citizenship is determined.

The first principle, ius sanguinis (law of the blood), states that a person's citizenship, regardless of where they were born, is dependent upon the citizenship of their parents.

The second principle, ius soli (law of the soil), determines citizenship on a person's birthplace.

The citizenship law is designed to prevent apatride (stateless) or bipatride (dual citizenship). Indonesian regulations recognize neither apatride nor bipatride citizenship.

In an attempt to prevent dual citizenship, the draft revision includes new regulations.

It states that an infant whose father is a foreign citizen and mother is an Indonesian can obtain Indonesian citizenship if it is the wish of their parents. This citizenship, however, must not cause dual citizenship.

A child born overseas to an Indonesian couple can be an Indonesian citizen at the request of their parents. A request for citizenship must be submitted to the Indonesian embassy no later than three months after the child's birth, the draft revision says.

A foreign child aged below 21 and unmarried, who is adopted by an Indonesian, will be eligible for Indonesian citizenship if the process does not cause dual citizenship.

Foreigners who contribute to Indonesia -- or for a specific reason -- can be granted Indonesian citizenship by the President with the consent of the House of Representatives.

Indonesian citizens can lose their nationality on certain conditions, including if they join the military service of another country, or live overseas for a consecutive period of five years without declaring their will to remain an Indonesian national.

An Indonesian woman can lose her citizenship if she marries a foreigner whose country applies a law that obliges a woman to follow the citizenship of her husband.

Indonesian citizenship is given to:

  1. A child born of the marriage of an Indonesian couple;
  2. A child born of the marriage of an Indonesian man and foreign woman -- the status of which does not cause dual citizenship;
  3. A child born of the marriage of a foreign man and Indonesian woman, both of whom request Indonesian citizenship for their child -- the status of which does not cause dual citizenship;
  4. A child born to an unmarried Indonesian woman, the status of which does not cause dual citizenship;
  5. A child born in Indonesian territory that is not provided with citizenship by his or her parents;
  6. A child born in Indonesian territory whose parents are unknown;
  7. A child born in Indonesian territory whose parents have no citizenship.

Source: Draft revision of citizenship law No. 62/1958

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