Zimbabwe: Legal Resources Foundation statement on the implications of the hiking of access to documentation fees as stated in Statutory Instrument 7 of 2024, and Statutory Instrument 10 of 2024

Published: 21/Mar/2024
Source: Legal Resources Foundation (Harare)

The Legal Resources Foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting human rights and improving access to justice, expresses deep concern over the hike in fees for birth registration and national identity documents as announced in Statutory Instrument 7 of 2024, and Statutory Instrument 10 0f 2024 . The Regulations, announced by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage in terms of section 26 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [chapter 5:02], pose significant challenges, particularly for vulnerable populations, and threaten to violate the rights of children and families across Zimbabwe.

The Legal Resources Foundation recognizes that access to documentation is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in International Instruments, including The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Article 6 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). Nationally, Section 81 of the Zimbabwe Constitution provides that every child has the right to a name, identity and nationality, which should be granted at birth. Birth registration is the first step in ensuring lifelong protection and is essential for children to enjoy fundamental rights and basic services.

The regulations stipulate that the cost of an initial birth certificate for persons above six years shall be USD$5.00, while the cost of a national ID for persons above 18 years shall be $5.00; certified copy of an entry of birth/death certificate shall be USD$5.00, re-registration (for legitimacy purposes) shall be USD$20, while urgent birth/death certificate shall be USD$10. This hike in fees will disproportionately affect vulnerable and marginalized communities, particularly those living in rural areas, who may not have the financial means to afford these additional costs.

According to reports by UNICEF, the Eastern and Southern African region is home to 51 million children under the age of 5 with unregistered births. In Zimbabwe, of the 6.3 million boys and girls, 4.8 million live in poverty, with 1.6 million living in extreme poverty. Notably,72% of the population reside in rural areas, and 49% remain unregistered. Unregistered children are almost inevitably the children of people with low incomes. The Zimbabwe Statistical Agency noted during the 2022 population and housing census that 20.5 % of children under the age of one were unregistered births. A total of 1,308,157 of persons aged five to 24 had not acquired a birth certificate, and 75% of those had not acquired a birth record. The Report further noted that about 951 994 653 of youths aged 16 to 34 did not have National Identity documents. The impact of the fee hike will further exacerbate the challenges these communities face, making it even more difficult for them to access birth registration services.

Families often face steep barriers to birth registration, including long distances to the nearest Civil Registry offices, lack of knowledge about how to register a child, and high fees required for obtaining a birth certificate. The inability to afford birth registration fees will not only hinder children from obtaining legal identity and recognition before the law. Still, it will also violate their rights to social protection, education, health, and legal protection. The lack of birth certificates can lead to exclusion from essential services such as vaccinations, healthcare, education, and legal rights, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty and marginalization.

In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Legal Resources Foundation is committed to ensuring universal birth registration and legal identity for every child by 2030. We are dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of birth registration, targeting mobile registration in hard-to-reach areas, addressing legislative and operational barriers, and encouraging parents to register their children promptly.

The Legal Resources Foundation calls on the government to reconsider the recent fee hikes for birth registration and to take proactive measures to ensure that birth registration services remain accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable in our society, through mobile birth registration campaigns. We urge the government to prioritize the rights of children and families by making birth registration affordable and accessible to all, in line with its international and national commitments.

We strongly encourage all Zimbabwean citizens to seize the opportunity for obtaining birth certificates at no cost for children aged 0-6, and for registering national identity documents at no charge for children aged 16-18 as provided for by SI 7 of 2024 and SI 10 of 2024. This initiative ensures proper documentation and official recognition by the state for their children. Acquiring birth certificates and national identity documents not only confers legal status but also facilitates access to crucial services, education, and future prospects. By utilizing the free provisions detailed in Statutory Instruments 7 and 10 of 2024, parents and guardians can equip their children with the essential documentation needed to confidently navigate society, assert their rights, and avail themselves of opportunities as Zimbabwean citizens

Read original: https://lrfzim.com/the-legal-resources-foundation-statement-on-the-implications-of-the-hiking-of-access-to-documentation-fees-as-stated-in-statutory-instrument-7-of-2024-and-statutory-instrument-10-of-2024/

Themes: Cartes d’identité et passeports, Enregistrement des naissances
Regions: Zimbabwe
Year: 2024