Court says Malta can register child born on migrant boat

VALLETTA, Malta - A Maltese appeals court on Friday ruled that a Somali woman who gave birth on a migrant smugglers' boat eight years ago can finally register her child in Malta.

Chama Hatra's daughter Muna was born in November 2008 while she was aboard the boat which had set sail from Libya.

The mother and her newborn were transferred to a Russian vessel before being brought to Malta, where they later were granted refugee status.

But Hatra wasn't able to obtain a birth certificate for her daughter in Malta. Officials said they could not recognize Muna's birth because the girl was born on a vessel not registered in Malta and also had been moved onto the Russian ship before arriving.

Her ordeal ended when the appeals court ruled that the birth can be registered for humanitarian reasons.

"The Public Registry can, solely for humanitarian reasons, register the birth of a child that was born at sea on a boat which does not have a registered country, and this only if Malta is the first port of disembarkation after birth," the court said.

The court said that although the vessel that brought the girl to Malta was not the one on which she was born, her transfer to the Russian ship had been necessary because her life was in danger.

After the mother and child obtained refugee status from Malta, the two moved to France under a migrant responsibility-sharing agreement between Maltese and French authorities.


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