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20 November 2018.

“Children in Migration Deserves Birth Certificate Too”

Today, 20thNovember is Universal Children’s Day, this day is celebrated annually. The goal of Universal Children’s Day is to improve child welfare worldwide, promote and celebrate children’s rights and encourage togetherness and awareness amongst all children. The Day was initially launched in 1954.  Since the UN General assembly adopted both the declaration and convention of Children’s Rights milestone events in the field of child welfare and protection have been evident. The convention sets out a number of children’s rights such as the right to be protected from violence and discrimination and the right to life, health and education.

Children’s rights in most developing countries such as South Africa and other countries are often no more than theoretical and a policy prioroty on a piece of paper, and not realised or respected in reality.  Children’s Day is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination based on their nationality, race, ethnicity, language and documentations status.  To start with, children in migration are the most vulnerable children around the globe with their lives depending on their documentations status.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) recently released a call for submissions on publication of the draft regulations on the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2018. The Republic of South Africa’s government through the Department of Home Affairs are proposing that no foreign national child/ren born in the Republic of South Africa should be issued with a birth certificate once the regulation is adopted. The DHA are proposing issuing foreign national children with a mere “confirmation of birth”, which is “not a birth certificate”. The DHA  makes further recommendations for a parent to obtain a passport from their country of origin/nationality and thereafter apply for a Visa /permit for the child. CoRMSA asks: ‘How can a child born of a undocumented, stateless person, an asylum seeker and/or refugee parents be required to obtain a passport from their home country?’ If you are stateless, it means you have no country you belong to- where will you obtain a passport for the child? If you are an asylum seeker or a refugee – it means you are running away from your own country with fear of being persecuted. How on earth can one expect asylum seeker or a refugee parent to go back to the same country or government they are running away from to obtain a passport?  CoRMSA says: ‘Children in migration have a right to a birth certificate too’

The above clearly indicates a policy rhetoric of discrimination and prejudice on access to documentations for foreign national children.  Birth certificates are a fundamental form of legal documentation for children in migration. Such documents are vital for childrens protection against detention and key in accessing critical basic services such health care services, education (every child must be able to attend to school. It is their constitutional and fundamental right to have access to education)and shelter. The South African Constitution clearly states that every child has the right to a name and a nationality from birth;  How will children in migration enjoy that right with no “birth certificate”. CoRMSA calls for the scrapping and removal or amendment of these unconstitutional regulations (regulation1, 7 and 8) to give rise and access to birth certificates for children in migration.

For more information, contact Abigail Dawson. Mobile:  074 851 5683.

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