by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
PRETORIA – HUMAN, refugee and children’s rights groups have rejected proposals by the South African government to discontinue the issuing of birth certificates to foreign children.
The outcry follows the Department of Home Affairs publishing its proposed new regulations to the Births and Deaths Registration Act.
Where previously all children were issued with birth certificates, as is required by the Constitution and international law on children’s rights, the new regulations propose that foreign children be issued with a mere “confirmation of birth” which is “not a birth certificate”, according to the new form.
Rights organisations bemoaned this as a violation of international law on the child’s right to birth registration and a legal identity.
Centre for Child Law, Lawyers for Human Rights, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and University of Cape Town Refugee Law Clinic opposed the moves.
They argued the proposal was problematic in that every child has the right to a birth certificate.
In terms of international law, it is the responsibility of the country of
birth to issue a birth certificate, regardless of whether citizenship is
also granted or not among others.
This proposed amendment, rights groups stated, comes in the wake of criticism from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the UN Human Rights council on South Africa’s alleged violations of international law on the child’s right to birth registration and a legal identity.
The aforementioned groups insisted the South African Constitution required the consideration of the best interests of the child to be paramount in all matters concerning the child.
“Our courts have consistently found that it is in the best interest of the child to have a birth certificate and access to a nationality,” they
They thus urged the Department of Home Affairs not to pursue proposed amendments.
– CAJ News