Changes to registration of births to come soon…
The Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2012 seeks to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act, Chap. 44:01. The amendments will change the process of the registration of births only. Section 16 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, Chap. 44:01 Act stipulates that it is the duty of the father and mother of the child to register the child’s birth. In default of the parents doing so, it would be the duty of the child’s guardians, the occupier of the house or building in which the birth took place or each person present at the birth to register the birth.
Evidence from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that nearly forty (40) per cent of births worldwide are not registered. The value of birth registration as a fundamental human right is often overlooked due to the continuing lack of awareness that registration is a critical measure to secure the recognition of any person before the law, to safeguard his or her rights and to ensure that any violation of these rights does not go unnoticed. Birth registration also secures the right of a child to a name and nationality at birth.
The Importance of a birth certificate
A birth certificate is essential:
- when registering at educational institutions (primary, secondary, tertiary, etc);
- when applying for a National ID Card, driver’s licence or passport;
- when applying for state benefits such as pension, public assistance or state housing;
- when seeking employment opportunities;
- when establishing rights to inherit property;
- when getting married; and
- when opening an account at a bank or other financial institution.
What are the key features of this proposed legislation?
- Provides the opportunity for parents, guardian or person with authority to make the request to apply to the Registrar General to insert the child’s name in the Register at any time after the birth has been registered.
- Removes the time limit of twelve (12) months from the date of registration of a child’s birth for late entry of a child’s name into the register book.
- Permits a person who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years but whose name has not been entered into the register book to apply at any time to the Registrar General for the name to be inserted in the register book.
- Empowers the Registrar General to make the relevant changes in the register book and index books of birth accordingly.
- Provides for a certified copy of the entry to be prepared as if the registration of the child’s birth had been made in the name so inserted
Important issues for consideration:
- Allows extended time to choose or change a child’s name since the twelve (12) month time limit from the date of registration of a child’s birth will be removed.
- Removal of the time limit may allow illiterate persons, parents from more rural areas the opportunity to register children since the penalty for late registration may have been a deterrent.
- Appears to relax the process which may encourage larger volumes of registration of births of nameless children.
- It is advantageous for the child to be named at the time of registration, or as short a time as possible thereafter since a name is essential to attain further identification documentation such as a passport and identification card. Additionally, simultaneous registration of birth and name of a child reduces the occurrence of errors.
Please take the opportunity to access the Bill via the link below and feel free to submit your comments and concerns to the Parliament.