South Africa: Children without documentation are denied their basic rights

Published: 27/Sep/2019
Source: Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

By Alison Misselhorn

South Africa’s Constitution is one of the most inclusive and progressive in the world, a hard fought achievement to be proud of. Under section 29 of our Constitution every­one has the right to a basic education. “Everyone” includes every person within the borders of South Africa irrespective of race or place of birth.

This has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal: “Human dignity has no nationality. It is inherent in all people — citizens and non-citizens alike — simply because they are human.”

The South African Human Rights Commission recently released a position paper on inclusive basic education for undocumented children. The paper addresses all children who, for various reasons, are unable to obtain documentation that allows them to access government services. This includes South African children whose birth has not been, or is unable to be, registered in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act; stateless persons; and migrants in an irregular situation.

According to 2016 survey data, there are about 176 000 children who live in South Africa but were not born here — and it is likely that this is underreported. It also excludes children born in South Africa to migrants and facing the same challenges accordingly.

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Themes: Birth Registration, Statelessness
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2019