Source: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention
Initial reports of States parties due in 1995
A. Right to a name, nationality and identity (art. 7)
The Civil Status Act requires that all births must be officially registered within 30 days of the birth of a child. Deaths (including stillborn children) must also be recorded. The same Act also requires that every child born must be registered with a name and a surname of either the father, where the child is legitimate or paternity has been accepted, or that of the mother in every other instance.
The right to acquire a nationality is also protected by the Constitution under the provisions for citizenship. Every child born of Seychellois parents regardless of the place of birth has a constitutionally guaranteed right to Seychelles nationality. All children born to a Seychellois father or mother are Seychellois citizens by descent. The Constitution treats both men and women equally with regard to matters of citizenship. Thus a child born to a Seychellois mother has the same right to citizenship as a child born to a Seychellois father. Article 13 (2) of the Constitution provides for dual citizenship for a child with only one Seychellois parent.
With respect to article 7 the right of an adopted child to a name and to knowledge of parents should be considered. There may be a need to consider the introduction of a legislative duty on adoptive parents to inform a child that he/she is adopted as soon as the child is capable of understanding, and on the adoption agency involved to provide details of the biological parents as soon as the child requests the information.
Compliance with article 7 together with article 12, the right of the child to express a view and have it taken seriously, requires that children should be given the opportunity to express their views about any proposal to change their name and to have that opinion taken into account in any judicial or administrative proceedings, subject to their age and understanding.
B. Preservation of the child’s identity (art. 8)
The guarantees and undertakings set down in the Constitution (chap. III) and the Civil Status Act are irrevocable with respect to the child’s identity. Children who are adopted do not currently have a right in law to know the identity of their biological parents until they are 18 years old. A child born out of wedlock does not have a right to know the identity of his or her natural father and the mother is under no obligation to reveal the identity of the father to the child. The Civil Status Act does however cover instances where both the mother and the person acknowledging himself to be the father request and both agree to his name being registered as father.
It is extremely difficult to introduce a requirement on all mothers to provide the name of the father to children. However, a requirement that, wherever known, the father’s name should be entered on the birth certificate would be consistent with the child’s right to know “as far as possible” who his/her parents are. This requirement is to be included in the Civil Status Act and Children’s Act. The child should have the right to all available information.
Seychelles provides constitutional guarantees to safeguard the child’s identity, both culturally and by ensuring that the child’s parents and other relatives have primary parenting obligations. The Constitution also ensures that Seychellois children in an adoption situation remain in Seychelles, in a bid to preserve the child’s familial and Seychellois identity. To this end Seychelles restricts adoptions by foreigners residing overseas, and the few that are permitted require presidential approval. The adoption laws, whilst safeguarding absolute confidentiality for the sake of the parties concerned do not expressly provide the adopted child with the legal right to establish links with his/her biological parents.
The right of a child to preserve his or her identity under article 8 of the Convention clearly includes the right to retain a name. If a child is adopted, the adoptive parents can change the child’s name whereupon the new names are entered in the adopted children’s register. When the courts are making an adoption order, there is an obligation to consider the wishes of the child but the child has no right to retain his or her name. The child therefore can lose his or her name and identity through adoption. This, however, is being considered for inclusion in the Children’s Act. Whilst for many children there is a wish to take on the name of the adoptive parents, this may not always be so and compliance with this article requires that the child who understands the implications of the adoption order should be able to exercise a choice.
Parents can change the name of a child following a separation or divorce and under the Children’s Act 1982 courts in Seychelles would be required to take into consideration the wishes of the child. In such proceedings, the child is not normally represented and may not be given any effective opportunity to make his/her views known to the court, even though in all such cases, the child is legally represented by the Attorney-General’s Office.
Download file: here