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UNICEF stresses Child’s Right to an Identity Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:00

On Wednesday, August 29th, the United Nations Children's Fund, in collaboration with Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children and Global Ambassador for Special Olympics and the Vital Statistics Unit, launched a universal birth registration campaign at the Samuel Haynes Institute of Learning in Belize City.

On September 2nd, 1990 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child came into force. Belize as a signatory to the Convention is bound by international law to implement the Convention. Each country that ratifies the convention is required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Article 7 of that convention emphasizes a child’s right to an identity. The first step in establishing such identity is by registering the birth of a child.

It is estimated that unregistered births range from about 2% in the Cayo District to about 12.4% in the Stann Creek District. The national birth registration drive was launched on February 24th of last year in the Toledo District, which was considered to be the most difficult district to cover. From Wednesday, August 29th, to Friday, August 31st, officials of the Vital Statistics Unit will be in different centers across Belize City to facilitate the registration process for residents of the city. Those locations are the Samuel Haynes Institute of Learning, Youth for the Future near Belchina Bridge, Sister Clara Muhammad Primary School, Young Men’s Christian Association building on Faber’s Road and the Vital Statistics Headquarters. The registration fee has been trimmed down to $3 during the exercise.

Mrs. Barrow strongly urges parents to register their children because when a parent fails to register their child it is like “that child does not exist”. Failure to register a child affects that child’s other fundamental rights. An unregistered child has no nationality, right to an education, access to healthcare or other basic services.