COMMENTARY

Over 25% Of Haitians Are Without Birth Certificates!

The documentation of births is a practice widely held throughout human civilization, especially in China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia.

The original purpose of vital statistics was for tax purposes and the determination of available military manpower.

Today, the right of every child to a name and nationality, and the responsibility of national governments to achieve this are contained in Articles 7 and 8 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality…” (CRC Article 7) and “States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations…” (CRC Article 8).

Despite the ratification of the convention by 191 countries, the births of millions of children worldwide go unregistered.

UNICEF estimates that more than a quarter of children under five worldwide are unregistered. The lowest levels of birth registration are found in sub-Saharan Africa (43 percent).

According to a recent Haitian press report, over 25% of the Haitian population is without birth certificates.

This neglect is attributed to an old antiquated system, according to the director-general of the National Archives of Haiti, Wilfrid Bertrand.

“The system is completely outdated. Civil registrars are in cities while many of the population live far from downtown. There is also a big mess in the system. So, it’s a contest of causes that makes the system totally dysfunctional, and many more people will not be registered,” he reportedly told LeNouvelliste news outlet.

Bertrand said there is also no effort to encourage people to declare their child at birth.

“Many people register when the registrar does not enter the data in the two registers as required by law,” he said, denouncing the fact that there is nobody that oversees the work of civil registrars across the country.

Haiti’s civil status system has remained the same since the turn of the 20th century, he noted.

Artibonite, Center, and Grand’Anse are the three departments in which we find the most Haitians who do not have a birth certificate, Bertrand reportedly told the newspaper.

The director-general of the National Archives further said that a program supported by UNICEF ​​should help reduce the number of Haitians without a birth certificate in these three departments.

However, the spread of Covid-19 has delayed the completion of the program.

He argued further that it’s now up to the government to ensure that a proper system is put in place and maintained.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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