Source: Committee on the Rights of the Child / Republic of Djibouti
Committee on the Rights of the Child: Combined third to fifth periodic reports submitted by Djibouti under article 44 of the Convention, due in 2012
[Date received: 6 February 2019]
162.Birth registration, far from being a mere administrative formality, is a fundamental right, a cornerstone for the exercise of many other rights (right to education, right to health, right to protection …). It is thus an essential and indispensable right for establishing a child’s identity.
163.The State of Djibouti, fully conscious of the importance of these principles, reaffirms them in the new legislation establishing the Code on the Legal Protection of Minors. Act No. 95/AN/15/7 L of 18 May 2015 on the protection and promotion of minors emphasizes that “every child shall be registered at birth and shall have from birth the right to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, to know and be cared for by his or her parents” (art. 7).
164.In response to paragraphs 33 and 34 of the Committee’s concluding observations, the results of the 2012 Djiboutian Family Health /Pan Arab Project for Family Health survey show that 92.6 per cent of births of children under five were registered at the civil registry office. Whereas gender disparities in this respect remain small (94 per cent for girls against 91.3 per cent for boys), geographical differences are more significant (urban areas: 97.2 per cent; rural areas: 79.1 per cent), while the mother’s level of education and the socioeconomic category of the household have an important influence on birth registration.
165.Nearly 7 per cent of Djiboutians under the age of five have not received a birth certificate despite the 40-day extension granted to parents to carry out this operation at the Population Directorate in Djibouti City and especially in its decentralized services in the interior regions.
166.The Population Directorate, an administrative service responsible for birth registration attached to the Ministry of the Interior, has nonetheless conducted a number of campaigns among urban and rural populations to stress the importance of civil status documents for the realization of citizens’ rights. These operations were particularly intensive in 2014, with the introduction of the new digital national identity card, and involved the most remote areas of the country.
167.The second phase in the decentralization and devolution process, initiated by the Djibouti State in 2002, seeks to transfer many of the State’s powers to local authorities, in such sectors as the registration of civil status, administrative management, highways and the public domain. In the long term, citizen participation in local affairs could provide a more appropriate response to the basic needs of the population, with particular regard to birth registration.
168.According to the 2012 Djiboutian Family Health /Pan Arab Project for Family Health survey, the main reasons given by parents for not registering their children’s births have to do with the accessibility of civil registration services (49.7 per cent), the high cost of registration (15.3 per cent) and ignorance of the need for birth registration (7.2 per cent).
169.As explained above, Djibouti has taken a number of measures to improve the situation with regard to birth registration, as recommended by the Committee. But the limited progress made in this area and the results of field studies in the field will enable the State party to better evaluate the measures required.
170.In this regard, the different measures proposed will serve to develop and/or improve the effectiveness of existing actions and/or strengthen them by:
Involving civil society more closely in promoting awareness of the importance of birth registration by giving it the means to attain remote rural areas and nomadic populations
Legislating to make birth registration free of charge or exempting vulnerable regions or populations from registering births
Organizing the registration of births or issuance of substitute birth certificates on a regular basis through the existing system of mobile court hearings
171.To this end, the Government has launched several studies through the delegate ministry responsible for decentralization to obtain an overall view of the birth registration system, including the context, regulatory framework, structures, functions and procedures as well as the community context and the role of civil society. These studies will highlight the system’s strengths and, above all, its weakness, in particular obstacles and shortcomings. They will also serve as a basis for a process of national reflection on directions of travel for improving birth registration services.