The Parliamentary Ombudsman welcomes the definitive judgement of the Court of Appeal delivered on 30 September 2016, authorising and ordering the Director of the Public Registry to register the birth of a child born at sea.
Her mother, of Somali origin, gave birth on a boat carrying 70 other irregular immigrants that eventually sank. The mother and child were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta and transferred on a vessel flying the Russian flag the ‘Yelena Shatrova’. Since the rescued immigrants could not be transferred onto the vessel of the Armed Forces of Malta because of inclement weather the Russian vessel was authorised to enter port in Malta where the mother and child landed and were given subsidiary humanitarian protection.
The Ombudsman notes the declaration of the First Hall of the Civil Court in the appealed judgement that the child had the fundamental right to be registered and to have a nationality and that this right had to be respected. He also noted that the law as it stands, is unclear and that the amendments purposely made to provide for such eventualities did not adequately cover all cases including those of a child born in such circumstances similar to those of applicant.
The Court of Appeal in its judgement declared that it was of the opinion that the legislator did not intend to exclude the registration of children born at sea and brought to Malta in circumstances similar to that of appellant. The Ombudsman therefore recommends that the law is revisited and clarified to provide for the registration by the Director of the Public Registry of the birth of all stateless children born at sea who are brought to Malta as their first port of call. Adequate safeguards should be made to ensure that such exceptional registration is not abused of by undeserving applicants.