South Africa: Invisible children: Onerous registration requirements leave countless without birth certificates
Source: Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
Charlene Kreuser and Sabrina Ochoa (Legal Resources Centre, Cape Town)
Every child has the right to a name and a nationality. This right is guaranteed not only under the Constitution, but in international law as well, and accrues to children independent of their parents.
To give effect to this fundamental right, the mandates that every child’s birth must be registered with the department of home affairs (DHA), creating a record of the child through the issuing of a birth certificate.
The Regulations on the Registration of Births and Deaths prescribe the minimum requirements for parents or guardians to register a child’s birth, including proof of birth; biometrics of the child in the form of a palm, foot or fingerprint and a certified copy of the parents’ identity document or valid passport and visa or permit, among others.
Birth registration serves an enabling purpose and is essential to access education, healthcare and social services. Later in life, birth certificates allow us to apply for an identity document, which is tied to the right to vote and work.