Cape Town – The public has until today to make comments on the proposed new regulations for the registration of births and deaths which activists say will lead to the discontinuation of the issuing of birth certificates to foreign children.
In a joint statement, the Centre for Child Law, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and the UCT Refugee Law Clinic said the draft regulation served no legitimate purpose and could only be an effort to exclude foreign children.
“It will make it significantly more difficult for vulnerable children (such as abandoned and orphaned children) to get birth certificates (because it is difficult to establish a link to a foreign country without parents).
“It will make it impossible for asylum seeker and refugee children to get birth certificates because they cannot approach their embassies for birth certificates,” said Liesl Muller of Lawyers for Human Rights.
The draft regulation requires children to present their “confirmation of birth” to their embassy to obtain a birth certificate from their country of nationality.
Muller said they assisted more than 700 persons in the past three years with birth registrations, including people entitled to birth registration but were denied.
“The inevitable effect will be that non-national children will struggle to register their births, and refugee children, stateless children and abandoned children will not be able to obtain a birth certificate at all.
“We wonder whether the Department of Home Affairs has considered the effect that the amendment will have,” Centre for Child Law’s senior attorney, Anjuli Maistry said.
According to the rights groups, where previously all children were issued with birth certificates, according to the new form, the document is “not a birth certificate”.
Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said: “The comments on the draft regulations referred to have not been received and considered and therefore (it is) unfair to expect the department to comment when we have not even considered the submissions on the matter. The closing date for submissions of comments is November 16.
‘‘Responses to comments follow a particular process of engagement internally and until approval by the relevant authority.”