Invisible Children in the Dominican Republic: A Minor Field Study on Obstacles to Birth Registration
Author(s): M. Flygge
Birth registration is a fundamental key in ensuring several essential rights of the child; including the right to a name and a nationality, the right to education and health care, and protection from abuse and exploitation among others. The United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child establishes that the child shall be registered immediately after birth and have the right to a name and a nationality. A total of 22% of the Dominican children under the age of five are lacking an official proof of their existence within the Dominican society and in the world. A Minor Field Study was conducted during a period of two months in 2009 with the aim of clarifying what obstacles to birth registration exist in the Southwestern part of the Dominican Republic. This clarification will contribute to a wider understanding of the causes to non-registration and the birth registration process in the country. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted with parents to unregistered children, civil registry officials and other relevant actors in the Dominican society. The findings of the study present a wide range of obstacles to birth registration and it is clear that the reasons behind non-registration in this region are numerous, complex and often inter-related. According to most parents, officials and other informants the main obstacle to birth registration was found to be the parents' lack of a Dominican identification card. The lack of awareness about the importance of being registered and neglect by the parents were two other significant barriers to birth registration. The Minor Field Study was conducted with the support of the child rights organisation Plan International - Republica Dominicana.