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KINGSTON — The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) bedside registration initiative increased birth registrations with fathers’ particulars being captured, from 52 per cent to 70 per cent in 2010.

The initiative, which aims to not only increase the number of birth registrations, but address the issue of fathers’ information being recorded on their children’s birth certificates, was implemented in 2007.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer made the disclosure in the House of Representatives on June 7, while outlining some of the measures that have been taken over the years to have mandatory registration of fathers’ particulars on birth certificates.

He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites, as to the plans for introducing regulations to the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act to provide for compulsory registration of fathers.

“The mandatory registration of fathers has been an outstanding issue since the 1970s, although attempts have been made throughout the years, including by this Parliament, to expand the provisions of the registration of fathers,” Mr. Spencer explained.

He noted that in 1976 a companion measure was introduced to the Status of Children Act, to expand the categories of persons to include midwives and school principals, before whom a declaration of paternity could be made.

The Minister also pointed to the 1980 amendment of the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act, which widened the scope for registering the father of a child born outside of marriage.

Most recently, the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which examined amendments to the Registration Bill, allowing for the mandatory registration of fathers, had resulted in a number of submissions to Cabinet.

Mr. Spencer said the matter came before Cabinet in April this year, and there would be closure to this issue when drafting of the Bill and regulations are complete.

Meanwhile, the Minister gave the assurance that birth registration issues would be “cleared up” on a broader scale, in the second phase of the Ministry’s thrust to have all persons properly registered. This, he said, would be addressed after the legislative changes have been made.

He gave this undertaking in response to Rev. Thwaites’ suggestion that no additional legislation should be required to have the current programme, which is in place for the elderly, extended to all persons who find themselves in a similar situation, where they were not properly named at birth.

In the meantime, Mr. Spencer outlined a number of steps that have been taken by the Ministry, through the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), to address the issue of fathers’ names being recorded on their children’s birth certificates. The most recent initiative, he noted, was the bedside registration introduced by the RGD in 2007.

 

By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter

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