Home affairs urges Mexican citizenship for Delgado-Lühl twins
11 May 2021 | Local News
The home affairs ministry has issued a brown passport to the 2-year-old son of Phillip Lühl and Guillermo Delgado to allow him to travel to South Africa to apply for Mexican citizenship.
The brown passports are essentially an emergency travel document that have, in the past, also been issued to stateless refugees in Namibia. The family has now asked the ministry to consider issuing the same passports to the twins Paula and Maya, who remain marooned in South Africa 60 days after their birth.
Although the family officially applied for Namibian emergency travel documents three weeks ago shortly after a devastating court ruling dismissing their application to allow them to bring the babies home, the ministry has not yet provided a final answer on that application. Instead, the ministry has suggested the twins and their brother apply for Mexican citizenship.
Lawyers for the family have asked that the ministry respond on the application by close of business on Tuesday. (11 May 2021)
Executive director Etienne Maritz in a letter to the family last week said the brown passport issued to Yona was so he can travel to South Africa to be “registered as a Mexican national”
Maritz said the passport is valid for 12 months. He added that if the twins also applied and were granted Mexican citizenship, they “will be able to travel to Namibia on visitor entry permits and we will permit them to remain in Namibia beyond the expiration days given to them pending the finalisation of the case in the High Court”.
In response, lawyer Unomuinjo Katjipuka-Sibolile, who is acting on behalf of the Delgado-Lühl’s, warned that this was not a solution to the current crisis facing the family. She said the Mexican authorities had notified the family that the application for nationality is a lengthy process, and urged the ministry to prioritise the best interests of the children.
“We urge you to keep in mind that it has been nearly two months that the twins have been stranded in South Africa, separated from the rest of their family. We reiterate that with each day that passes the situation for the family becomes more and more desperate and more and more urgent.”
Katjipuka-Sibolile emphasised that obtaining Mexican documents should not be misconstrued as a “relinquishment of their claim to Namibian citizenship”.
Questions sent to the ministry on Friday on the outcome of the application remained unanswered by Tuesday morning.
Like his sisters, Yona’s legal parents are identified as Lühl and Delgado in an official South African birth certificate and High Court order, but Namibian authorities have, as with his sisters, refused to accept the birth certificates, insisting on a DNA test to prove his biological link to his Namibian father Lühl.
His battle to be granted citizenship will end on 4 August, when High Court judge Thomas Masuku hands down his ruling in that case.
Masuku also helmed two other cases brought to court by the family, and ruled against their applications in each case.
Namibia’s child advocate Ingrid Husselmann recently told Namibia Media Holdings that although the judgement delivered in the twin’s case on 19 April was, on the one hand, “sound” on the issue of the absence of an official application for travel documents, the judge failed to consider the wellbeing and rights of the children.
She said the High Court, as upper guardian of all children, was duty bound to consider the best interests of the twins and then to protect those interests.
But, “ultimately the High Court was obligated and failed, in my view, to consider the rights of the children. It is unfathomable that it would not be in their best interest to be with both their parents and their older brother in a loving family unit,” she said.
Husselmann further explained that although the High Court referred to the provision in the Child Care and Protection Act which allows a court to order DNA testing where this would be in the child’s best interests, “it did not address the question whether imposing such a requirement would amount to discrimination against the twins”.