JIS News

Over the next three weeks, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) will be targeting 6, 872 children, who were born between September 1, 2004 and December 31, 2006, and whose names do no appear in the RGD’s birth records.
The initiative is under the second phase of the Name the Child Project, which will cost the agency some $7 million.
Speaking at a recent press briefing at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Chief Executive Officer of the RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, said that “while the RGD will be making itself available to name these children, this cannot be done without the support of their parents.”
As at Friday (Oct. 5), the RGD began publishing the names of the mothers whose children were registered without a name in the Gleaner.
Dr. Holness explained that the list will indicate the full name of the mother and the date of birth of the child, as well as the RGD location where the parents may visit to collect packages to complete the naming process.
“Each package contains a Certificate of Naming and a Status form for the adding of the father’s particulars,” she informed, adding that the child cannot be named until the mother completes the Certificate of Naming form.
She said that the RGD will support the initiative by waiving the Late Entry of Name fee of $2,100.00 and the only cost to the parents will be $500.00 for adding the names. An additional benefit of this initiative is that there is no additional charge if the father submits his particulars at the same time.
“If we name these 6,872 children, we will have 100 per cent of the children in this cohort with names on their birth record, so we can significantly reduce the number of ‘no-named’ children. They will also be equipped with a copy of their birth certificate,” Dr. Holness said, while urging parents to ensure that the forms are properly completed and submitted to the RGD on time.
A breakdown of the figures for the September 2004 to December 2006 cohort shows that the five parishes with the highest number of children without an official name on their birth records are: Kingston with 2, 246; St. Catherine, 1, 450; Westmoreland, 685; St. Ann, 417; and Manchester, 359. Portland has the least number of cases with 54.
“Children without a birth certificate are often excluded and in some instances invisible from the crucial social programmes,” Dr. Holness noted, as she appealed to parents to ensure that their children are not deprived of the fundamental human right, that is, the right to a name and identity.
Citing statistics from the United Nations 2006 Report, the Head of the RGD pointed out that “every year globally, 55 per cent of births are unregistered. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 18 million births go unregistered.”
“Birth registration in Jamaica compares favorably to these statistics as 98 per cent of our births occur in hospitals and since the introduction of bedside registration on January 1, 2007, there has been 100 per cent registration of all births occurring in hospitals,” she informed.
Last year, the RGD embarked on the first phase of the Name the Child Project to name some 18,000 children, who were born between January 1, 2003 and August 31, 2004. This cohort represented children, who would have entered school for the first time in September 2006. The initiative was offset by the government at a cost of some $17 million.
“We had quite a bit of success with that initiative because over 12,000 children were named,” Dr. Holness informed. The Registration of Births and Deaths Act (1879) provides for compulsory registration and gives the Registrar the authority to seek out those individuals who have not registered and have the process completed.

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