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Opinion - Provide universal legal identity 

2021-09-22  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Provide universal legal identity 
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Sustainable Development Goal target 16.9 calls for “Identity for All including birth registration by the year 2030”, targeting universal legal identity and birth registration, ensuring the right to a name and nationality, civil rights, recognition before the law, and access to justice and social services. 

With more than a quarter of children under five unregistered worldwide as of 2015, about one in five countries will need to accelerate progress to achieve universal birth registration by 2030. Birth registration is a universal human right. 

Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates: “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.” 

Article 15 (1) of the Namibian Constitution on Children’s Rights reads: “Children shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, subject to legislation enacted in the best interests of children, as far as possible the right to know and be cared for by their parents.”

The process of registering children immediately after birth is crucial; in order to ensure that the child can access essential health and social services. 

Birth registration also contributes to juvenile justice, protecting children from human rights violations, such as early marriage, child labour and child trafficking. Unregistered children will later in life be unable to exercise their democratic rights through voting. 

To commemorate International ID Day, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security propagates public advocacy on sharing information on where services offered by the ministry can be accessed. 

To ensure access to birth registration, the ministry embarked on a three-legged strategy, to have a footprint around the country, school outreaches and general mobile registrations. There are 14 regional offices, 21 sub-regional offices and 24 hospital-based facilities spread around the country. 

A regional office offers the following services: birth and death registration, ID enrollment, duplicates for birth and ID cards, passport applications and handles any other enquiries by any member of the public, sub-regional offices (category 1) offers similar services which are offered by regional offices while other sub regional offices offer birth and death registrations for children below five years only and hospital based facilities offer birth & death registrations only for children below five years. 

Further consultations are ongoing to have offices in Rosh Pinah, upgrade Khorixas sub regional office, and re-open Linyanti and Impalila sub regional offices during the current financial year. School outreaches are conducted annually by each regional office countrywide targeting school going children who are 16 years of age and above for birth and identity cards registrations.

School outreaches have decongested the regional offices as registrations are arranged with school administration to minimise any interruptions to teaching and learning. General mobile registrations target faraway, remote and hard-to-reach areas. 

Such mobile registrations are coordinated by regional heads in consultation with constituency councillors.

 

*Collens Muleke is the national civil registration director at the ministry of home affairs.


2021-09-22  Staff Reporter

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