A child's right to a name and identity

Thursday, November 08, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Investing in our children means giving them access to certain fundamental human rights, such as the right to a name and identity.

Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children, inter alia, have the right to a name and nationality, which they should be granted at birth. It also states that they have a right to, as far as possible, know and be cared for by their parents.

The issue of non-registration of births is a global phenomenon. Jamaica is well aware of the implications of unregistered births such as susceptibility to human trafficking and exclusion from society. Through initiatives such as the 2007 introduction of Bedside Registration, the Registrar General's Department (RGD) has sought to reduce the number of unregistered births each year.

Statistics from the RGD reveal that for the 2016-2017 (preliminary) financial year a total of 36,221 births were registered. Of this total 2,098, or six per cent, of these births were late registrations — meaning they were not registered at birth or within one year of the occurrence. The number of late registration of births in the previous year 2015-2016 stood at 2,069; with the highest numbers being recorded in St Catherine for both periods. Although the figures have decreased since the bedside initiative in 2007, it is still a cause for concern. One of the agency's mandates is to have 100 per cent of all births registered at the time of its occurrence.

The RGD continues to educate parents on the importance of naming their children before their admission to the hospital/birthing centres through weekly antenatal sessions at the clinics. Brochures and baby name books are issued to assist mothers with useful information needed to ensure full compliance as it regards the registration of their children.

If the child is born at home, the registration of the birth is done at the local district registrar or at the RGD office in the parish in which the birth occurs. We appeal to parents to have their children registered within one year of the occurrence to avoid late registration.

In the event a late registration must be done, the form can be collected at any RGD office islandwide. The form includes sections for the provision of the child's first primary school record or elementary school record. If the child is not yet attending school you must submit an immunisation card or a baptismal certificate more commonly referred to as the “christening paper”. Three declarants are required for late registration — mother (if alive), if not alive evidence of death is required; father; legal guardian of the child; relative or anyone having knowledge of the birth. Further information is available from the RGD.

Registrar General's Department


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