Essence of vital events registration: Ethiopia established Vital Events Registration Agency

The Ethiopian Herald

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration
Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration

Pursuant to a proclamation on the registration of vital events and national identity card (Proclamation No. 760/2004), the government has decided to establish Vital Events Registration Agency by the decision of Council of Ministers, Regulation No. 278/2005, which is accountable to the Ministry of Justice. The proclamation indicates that establishing a system of registration of vital events plays a key role in planning political, social and economic developments, in providing various social and economic services to citizens and in making the justice administration expedient and effective.

To this effect, available sources show that registration and records of vital events are intended primarily as legal documents of direct interest to the person concerned. From those official records, evidentiary proof of the occurrence of a vital event and its characteristics can be made by a civil registrar or any other designated authority. Each certificate constitutes testimony of the particulars set forth therein in all courts of law and public offices. There is a wide variety of circumstances, legal and administrative, for which a certified copy of the legal record of live birth, fetal death, death, marriage and divorce is usually required. Fetal deaths, however, are mostly recorded for statistical purposes rather than for legal purposes.

United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama said that civil registration is not just about identity cards- it is rather a pre- requisite for measuring equity monitoring trends and evaluating impact and outcomes of broader development programmes, such as the MDGs and the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

“While some progress has been made, there is still an enormous gap in registering vital events especially birth registration. According to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey of 2005, birth registration of children under the age of five was around 7 per cent, meaning that 9 out of 10 Ethiopian children remain unregistered,” said Dr. Peter.

As this crucial task is embarked on, Dr. Peter emphasized on three key points. First, birth registered is every child’s right. As stipulated in Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of Child: “every child has the right to be registered at birth without discrimination.” Birth registration, was recognized as central to ensuring children’s right— rights to name, identity and nationality. Ethiopia was among the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, with no proof of age or identity, Ethiopian children and young people may be seen as attractive ‘commodities’ and subject to child trafficking across the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf. Nor will they have even the minimal protection that a birth certificate provides against early marriage, child labour or detention and prosecution as an adult. Read more

Also read full speech by Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia at the event.

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