Human rights day: Abandoned children in Pakistan still search for their right of birth registration
Human rights day, first observed in 1948, is observed on December 10, every year. Pakistan was one of the country, who signed the declaration in its early days.
On this occasion of international day of human rights, I would like to highlight the issue of street children, most vulnerable to the human rights violation. In Pakistan, most of them are deprived of the fundamental right of birth registration, promised by the constitution and united nation charter, which the country is signatory.
In 1886, Then British government introduced the Birth, Marriage and Death Registration Act.
The Cantonments Act 1924, deals with registration of children in cantonments.
The Local Government Ordinance 2001, holds the Union administration responsible to maintain the registration system and record of births, deaths and marriages and to issues certificates.
National Database Registration Authority Ordinance 2000, stipulates the registration of a citizen under 18 years by his/her guardian/ parent, not later than one month after his/her birth.
The National Registration Act 1973, was promulgated by the government to introduce the concept of issuance of a national identity to every citizen of Pakistan above the age of 18 years.
Charter of Child Rights Act, 2009: Article 5. (1) The Provincial Governments shall ensure that every child is registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name and the right to acquire a nationality.
International Commitments of Pakistan:
Convention on the Rights of the Child
- The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
- States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular, where the child would otherwise be stateless.
Legal Procedure and Mechanisms for Birth Registration in Pakistan
To make the birth registration procedure efficient parents are directed to get their children registered in respective NADRA office, union council and cantonment board.
Required documents for NADRA Birth Certificate Pakistan:
- Copy of applicant’s CNIC (if age is above 18)
- Copy of hospital / old birth certificate
- Copy of father’s CNIC / NICOP
- Copy of mother’s CNIC / NICOP
- Copy of applicant’s current passport (if available provide as additional document to prove place of your birth)
- Filled and signed application form to submit in concerned issuing department (duly attested by BS-17 and above officer)
- If born in home please also provide an affidavit from parents with CNIC copies of 2 witness
Where does the problem lie?
Pakistani law requires both the Parents’ National ID cards for birth registration, without Parents’ ID, street children are unable to get their birth certificate. This legal binding deprived them from several fundamental human rights i.e. right to get health facilities, right to get quality education as birth certificate is basic requirement at the time of admission in school, right to get proper Job and worker’s rights, right to travel abroad as without nationality, street children can’t obtain passport.
So much so, if they wish to at any time in their lives they cannot open bank account at any stage of life.
Historic judgment by Supreme Court
In 2014, three members bench of Supreme Court headed by then Chief justice Tassaduq Jeelani announced a historic verdict on the petition filed by philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi (Late).
In the verdict, the court allowed orphanage custodians to become the guardian of the children living in their premises. This judgment finally gave the right of birth registration to the children living in orphanages and shelter houses
But still there is no solution come from street children living without any supervision, most of them are afghan refugees
In 2014, PM Imran khan announced in his speech to provide nationality to Afghan and Bengali citizen, born in Pakistan.
But still, street children have a long journey to be covered for obtaining the basic human right of birth registration, promised by the constitution and UN charter.