Register children at birth -parents urged
At least 3% of newborns unregistered
Stabroek News
April 19, 2002

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At least three per cent of children born annually in Guyana are not registered, according to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Assistant Representative, Dr Sreelakshmi Gururaja.

Gururaja made this disclosure at the birth certificate campaign launched on Monday in an effort to underscore the significance of birth registration and owning the relevant document.

Those in attendance were urged to complete registration within 14 days after birth to avoid the complications of a late registration, which includes having to pay for an affidavit swearing to the correct date of birth and name of the specific person, General Registrar, Greta McDonald, explained. However, late registration could be effected at the Guyana Post Office (GPO) after 12 months.

McDonald noted that among the reasons for non-registration were the absence of the father from the home, the traditional acceptance of baptismal certificates for official purposes over the past years and the utilisation of the 14-day period by parents to choose names for their child/children.

Chairman of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC), First Lady, Varshnie Jagdeo, who played a vital role in the introduction of the exercise, stressed that birth certificates are a social necessity. A Government Information Agency (GINA) press release noted that the document was required to attend school, write examinations and obtain the results, acquire a passport and apply for a job.

Meanwhile, pamphlets distributed at the launching of the campaign indicated that those wishing to obtain such a document, were advised to: (a) go to any Post Office where the relevant application form could be obtained and filled out and (b) return the completed form to a clerk at the said post office along with the required processing fee of $30. The document is posted to the applicant after processing has been completed. Expectant mothers are urged select the child's name prior to birth and to ensure that child's proper name is known and that it is spelt correctly.

Reiterating that the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been ratified by the Government of Guyana in 1991 to signify the state's position on protecting children's rights, GINA also stated that the current venture aimed to sanction Article Seven which asserts: "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. State parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with the national laws, and their obligations."

The venture is the result of collaborative efforts between the NCRC, UNICEF and the General Registrar of births, deaths and marriages, GINA added.