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On Returning Indonesian Ex-ISIS Children Home, Habibie Center: Very Good

Habibie Center researcher, Vidya Hutagalung, welcomed the government’s attitude which would consider the repatriation of children of ex-ISIS Indonesian citizens in Syria.

“In my opinion the decision to repatriate children is very good, given the existence of children in refugee camps whose conditions are very alarming,” Vidya told Tempo, Wednesday, February 12, 2020.

Vidya said that most of the children in the refugee camp were under 12 years old. Even many are under 5 years old. Even the number of children who do not have parents. Therefore, said Vidya, the state is obliged to handle and protect them.

“In addition, we must not forget that after all children are victims of their parents,” Vidya said.

For children of former ISIS citizens who were born in Syria, according to Vidya, the citizenship status of the child is still a citizen. Because, the Citizenship Act follows the principle of law by blood.

“So, a child born to a citizen of an Indonesian citizen, one of the parents of an Indonesian citizen, the marital status of an official or not, and whether born in Indonesia or not, the citizenship status of the child is an Indonesian citizen,” Vidya said.

According to Vidya, this status cannot be lost before they are 18 years old or their age can determine their nationality. This is stated in Article 4 of Law Number 12 Year 2006 concerning Citizenship. In addition, the government needs to conduct an assessment of the status of children referred to as children of Indonesian citizens in Syria and Iraq.

“Really born of Indonesian citizens or not Indonesian children, but treated by Indonesian citizens because many children lost their parents there. This is certainly not simple, but needs to be done,” Vidya said.

The government previously decided it would not repatriate former ISIS citizens to Indonesia. The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said the decision was made based on security considerations for the 267 million people of Indonesia. From the latest data, Mahfud MD explained that there were 689 former ISIS citizens spread across a number of countries, such as Turkey and Syria. However, the government will record a valid amount and their complete identity. Repatriation of children under the age of 10 will also be considered.

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