Stateless Children of Iran

My name is (withheld) and I am a first-year student at Sciences Po Paris and La Sorbonne. I thoroughly read the report of the United Nation committee on the rights of Iranian children (01/12/2016). Thus, I am willing to underline in this letter one important subject that was not discussed nor mentioned by the committee: the right of Iranian women to pass on their citizenship to their children.

Currently resident in Iran are hundreds of thousands of children, who are unrecognized and “stateless” children.
Official statistics put the number at one million such stateless people. Usually they are the children of Iranian mothers and Afghani or Pakistani fathers and usually they are very poor. Iranian law, that does not recognize the existence of these children and leaves these many children without access to government health care or to any type of education. In addition, when they grow up they cannot work legally or even officially marry and form a family. Though I live in France and thus do not face the many challenges of these children, I am in the same position as these children under Iranian law as I too have an Iranian other and foreign (French) father. Though my mother and her entire family are Iranian, I am invisible under Iranian law and have no rights there whatsoever.

The injustice that I see in Iranian law pushed me to contact Iranian authorities and try to stir some change. Several years ago, from Paris, I wrote almost all of the Iranian branches of government I could think of including: the Assembly of Experts, members of the female portion of the National Assembly, the President, the Supreme Leader and various other relevant ministries. Many of the officials I wrote to responded and in fact agreed that the legal situation was unjust and left a legal void for many children resident in Iran. I got an interview with a few of these officials.

The responses I received gave me hope that the situation might improve. From Paris I diligently followed the legal developments on this issue. Very unfortunately on September 27, 2015, I learned that the Iranian National Assembly refused to ratify laws that would legalize the status of the children of mixed marriages. The logic behind the decision was that any amended law would encourage unwanted immigration to Iran.

Having signed the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, Iran is obliged to comply with the Charter’s article 24 that provides the right of individuals born in a signatory country’s territory. Article 24 provides that “Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.” In addition, “The International Convention on the Rights of Children” signed by Iran in 1989 requires that each year Iran send to the United Nations statistical reports on the implementation of the Convention, with which Iran is not complyin

I hereby respectfully ask you to look into the matter, in order for Iran to comply with its international obligation.

I thank you for you time

Sincerely,

(name withheld)

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