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  • Former Chief Executive Officer of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Dr. Patricia Holness, says Caribbean nations need to come together and create a model for civil registration, where identification data can be accessed easily.
  • Dr. Holness said that while there will obviously be challenges, the collective good of having a sophisticated civil registry should supersede any difficulties that might arise.
  • Dr. Holness said it is important that leadership at all levels will be committed on the way forward and will create the climate that will ensure that a vital and important up-to-date registry becomes a reality.

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Dr. Patricia Holness, says Caribbean nations need to come together and create a model for civil registration, where identification data can be accessed easily.

Speaking at the Caribbean Civil Registration and Identity Management Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on July 7, Dr. Holness added that a secure identity card needs to be created using biometrics and where data is stored for identity verification.

“Citizens and ordinary residents should be able to provide data to this system where our police, health services, passport offices, customs, transportation and even banking should be able to have full and complete access,” she argued.

Dr. Holness said that while there will obviously be challenges, the collective good of having a sophisticated civil registry should supersede any difficulties that might arise.

“A well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics system will register all births and deaths. Not only will it also be able to issue birth and death certificates, it will compile and disseminate vital statistics, including cause-of-death information. It may also record marriages, deed poll, and divorces,” she noted.

Dr. Holness said it is imperative that countries spend quality time educating the public about the benefits of civil registration and to refute the notion that providing vital information for a database is merely a way to promote intrusion into the private lives of citizens.

“When we have an educated public we will also have a different level of civil registration in our countries. We need to create a model to examine together the needs of countries and see where we can get the synergies together,” she argued.

Dr. Holness said it is important that leadership at all levels will be committed on the way forward and will create the climate that will ensure that a vital and important up-to-date registry becomes a reality.