Source: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Combined second to fourth periodic reports submitted by Eswatini under article 44 of the Convention, due in 2011
[Date received: 19 December 2017]
Part 4 Civil rights and freedoms
4.1.Birth registration, name and nationality and preservation of identity
58.Children’s rights to a name and nationality are protected by the Constitution and CPWA. The GoS has not made any changes to the law, as required in terms of concluding observation numbers 32 and 33 to ensure that children can derive their nationality, not only from their father, but also their mothers unless the child is born outside of marriage and is not adopted or claimed by the father. The issue will however will be reviewed during the drafting the imminent new bill on citizenship.
59.The Ministry of Home Affairs has, with the support of partners, initiated systemic innovations and programmes to improve the rate of birth registration in the country. In 2006/7, the births of less than 30 percent of children under the age of 5 years were registered. As a result of the programmes this increased to 53.5 percent in 2014. (See annex A for further data on birth registration rates).
60.Swaziland has attempted to confront the challenges associated with registration of children in geographically marginalised areas through the initiating the decentralisation of its services. In so doing, the State party attempts to address concluding observations 34 and 35 calling for stronger measures to ensure all children born within the territory are registered. In 2006/7, less than 20 percent of young children in rural areas had a birth certificate. Decentralisation started in 2005 with the support of UNICEF. This was escalated to schools and hospitals. The hospital registration initiative also seeks to address cost barriers.
61.Despite these innovations, the rate of registration is still not at optimal levels due to:
(a)A number of parents who do not have identity documents which are required for the registration of children’s births. Further, caregivers often do not see the value in getting identity documents and birth certificates;
(b)Some Parents prefer to obtain a South African citizenship and cannot then register their children as Swazi citizens because the law prohibits dual citizenship;
(c)Customary naming practices which require family consultation or naming ceremonies before they can name and register the child’s birth;
(d)Single mothers, without the presence and written authorisation of the father, are demotivated to register the birth only under the mother’s name;
(e)High levels of OVC challenge the obtainable registration processes.
62.In mitigation, the Ministry of Home Affairs together with CSOs and development partners has developed an advocacy and communications plan. It uses multiple media platforms to raise awareness, advocate the value of identification documents, birth certificates, children’s rights, parental responsibilities, the availability of mobile and outreach services.
63.Two underlying challenges limit the efficacy of the various initiatives are the persistent lack of resources and the non-alignment of the current civil registration laws and procedures with the CPWA. The Country needs a systematic review and alignment of a new Births, Marriages and Deaths Act and procedures with the CPWA.