Stop penalising children because of an absent parent: Mensah-Wil

15 Dec 2014 19:20pm
WINDHOEK, 15 DEC (NAMPA) - No new-born child should leave a hospital without a birth certificate, vice-chairperson of the National Council (NC) Margaret Mensah-Williams says.
She made the remark during discussions on the Child Care and Protection Bill in the NC here on Monday.
Mensah-Williams said stakeholders raised concerns during consultative meetings and review of the bill that mothers leave hospitals without birth certificates for their new babies, because one of the parents, in most cases the father, was not present in order for such a document to be issued.
She said the problem currently is that the law on the registration of births does not make provision for the mother of a new baby to give the details of the father.
Margaret Mensah-Williams noted that in some cases the fathers ran away before their child was born, and as a result that child is not benefiting from the registration.
“We should stop penalising children because of the irresponsibility of an absent parent,” she said.
Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigrations Salome Kambala told Nampa on enquiry Monday that the presence of both parents is a requirement for a newborn baby to be issued with a birth certificate, especially to determine if both parents are Namibian citizens.
“We have a lot of cases where mothers have not been able to register their newborns for a birth certificate because the father was not around. They (mothers) are still allowed to register them,” said Kambala, adding that the mother will then give the baby her surname.
Some of the many reasons to register the birth of a child are that it will make registration for schools in future easier, as well as to obtain health services or qualify for State grants.
Children also need birth certificates as proof of age for school sports teams; to get an Identity Document when he or she reaches the age of 16; to get a passport; to vote; to get a driver’s licence; get married; open a bank account; or to work in some jobs.
The Child Care and Protection Bill provides a legislative framework to give effect to some of the rights of children that are yet to be fully realised, such as provision of a children’s fund, the right to foster care, as well as a National Advisory Council for Children.
The NC adjourned the discussions to Tuesday.
It will also discuss a report on minor children in custody.