Birth certificate protects me and makes me a citizen of my country

Héritier Bahati, 12, has received his birth certificate at the Goma municipality

Héritier Bahati, 12, has received his birth certificate at the Goma municipality

CHILD REPORTER – On 9 May 2017, I attended in the morning a ceremony where each child legally received a birth certificate in Goma, North Kivu’s provincial capital in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Chaired by the head of the provincial Division of Interior, the ceremony was also attended by the heads of provincial Divisions of Social Affairs and Justice, the mayors of Goma and Karisimbi municipalities, a group of children and their parents as well as representatives from UNICEF and non-governmental organizations.

I was very happy to see other children receiving their birth certificates because personally I know this document allows us to have Congolese nationality, to fully enjoy our rights as Congolese children and citizens, and to be protected from multiple abuses and violations of our rights such as the recruitment in armed groups and forces, the child marriage, and any conflict with law. Thanks to this document we can also travel and have access to legal and social protection for children.

The joy of this day was shared. I met many other children like Bahati, 12 years old, who also expressed their satisfaction about the event.

Today, I feel super good because we have the opportunity to receive our birth certificates.

Now, I can travel and go anywhere I want with my parents, even in foreign countries » said Hériter Bahati, a 12-year-old student at Mugunga’s Sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité School and children’s spokesperson at the birth certificates delivery ceremony.

It’s also a great pleasure for the parents whose children have just received their birth certificates.

Thants to the provincial government's moratorium, Marie-Claudine obtained birth certificates for her children.

Thanks to the provincial government’s moratorium, Marie-Claudine obtained birth certificates for her children.

« I say thank you to the provincial government for allowing our children to receive their birth certificates today. Had it not been for this moratorium, I would never have the money to pay for my children’s birth certificates » declared Marie-Claudine, a housewife and mother of six.

In DRC, obtaining a birth certificate after the 90-day legal period following the child birth is not an easy task. Families have to go through long and complicated administrative procedures; furthermore, they have to pay relatively high amounts of money ranging from 100 to US$ 200 for a birth certificate (far beyond the average annual rural household income). As a result, many parents are reluctant to legally register their children after the 90-day legal period.

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I join all the other children in the province in saying thank you to UNICEF for supporting and facilitating the birth certificates delivery process for vulnerable children. We would also like to thank the North Kivu’s provincial Government for having signed a moratorium that allowed many children whose births were not registered within the 90-day legal period, to finally get their birth certificates on the basis of a judge’s decision. We also remind all the parents in the province to legally register their children within the three months following the birth as it is a fundamental right for every child to be registered at birth.

Photo credit: UNICEF RDC/ 2017/ Djaounsede Pardon Madjiangar

Translated from French by Matthew Khalkhali

For more informations about birth registration in DRC :

 

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Jospin Benekire

Jospin a 16 ans et fait partie de la nouvelle génération des enfants reporters de Goma. Il est également le porte-parole du parlement d’enfant depuis 2013. Il veut devenir journaliste international ou avocat des droit humains pour améliorer la situation des enfants. Ce qu’il préfère dans le fait d’être enfant reporter : « faire des articles et des reportages sur la situation des enfants pour renforcer notre plaidoyer et faire comprendre aux décideurs les problèmes ».

Jospin is 16 years old and is part of the new generation of young reporters from Goma. He is also the spokesman of the child Parliament since 2013. He wants to become an international journalist or a lawyer in human rights to improve the situation of children. What he loves about being a young reporter: "make articles and reports on the situation of children to strengthen our advocacy and expose the problems to the policymakers."

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