Plans to deny foreign children birth certificates violates Constitution - group

Legal groups have objected to the Home Affairs Department's plan to discontinue birth certificates for foreign children born in South Africa.

The plans are included in the proposed new regulations to the Births and Deaths Registration Act as it pertains to refugees.

Lawyers for Human Rights says denying children of foreign nationals birth certificates goes against the Constitution and international law on children's rights.

Read: Fears over white paper's new 'restrictive' immigrant laws

The organisation's Robin Lenahan, says every child has the right to a birth certificate according to international obligations.

Without a birth certificate, foreign children will not be able to access services such as basic education and healthcare, she says.

Lenahan explains that the new regulations propose that foreign children be issued with a 'confirmation of birth' and not a birth certificate.

The regulations proposes that foreign children must present their confirmation of birth to their embassy in order to obtain a birth certificate from their country of nationality.

But Lenahan warns that this creates several implications and challenges for children of asylum seekers and refugees, abandoned children, orphaned children and stateless children.

The new proposed regulation for the Births and Deaths Registration Act won't make any difference to citizenship at all.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

The only way you can acquire citizenship in South Africa, is if your parent is a South African citizen or if you nationalise.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

This change violates our own Constitution.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

The new regulations take away a foreign child's right to a birth certificate... It violates all our international obligations about the rights of a child.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

On an international level, every child has the right to a birth certificate. It is the responsibility of the country in which the child is born to give the child a birth certificate.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

We'll have this whole generation of particularly vulnerable children who will have no proof of their birth, so they won't be able to access any services.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

I just can't really see a legitimate reason for this - I don't why you would want to deny a child a birth certificate.

Robin Lenahan, candidate attorney at Lawyers For Human Rights

Listen to the discussion on The John Maytham Show:


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