Mr Palm's address during the roundtable on civil registration on 22 February 2011
Round table on civil registration for the Roma and Egyptian community in Albania
Civil registration is considered of paramount importance for the UN. Because Roma and Egyptians cannot be legally employed, enrol in vocational training, register or graduate from compulsory education, access public health care, register as unemployed or homeless, becoming entitled to social assistance, nor can they vote or transfer property. Any response to this complex issue can be only multi-sectoral. Roundtables like this are necessary to integrate all dimensions deal with the problem.
Let me stop on the issue of birth registration; it is a human right and enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Birth registration does not depend on whether the parents pay taxes or electricity bills. Birth registration is the first official recording of a child’s existence by the State, ensuring an identity, name and nationality. As the first “legal act”, if it is not happening or not happening quickly enough, many other social, economic and political rights cannot be exercised. Registering births provides the vital information that authorities need to plan, implement and target programmes and policies more efficiently. Birth registration is instrumental in safeguarding human rights and a well-functioning, inclusive society.
The law on Civil Status (as amended in 2009) brought a lot of improvements for the in the registration procedures. Fines and court procedures were removed. Most children, also from vulnerable communities, are now registered soon after they are born. Some complex situations remain, such as for children born outside Albania, who only have some papers from an institutions in the country where they were born. Or abandoned children who live with grand-parents or relatives or live in residential institutions. Or Children born outside a maternity home.
You got today a guide for practitioners developed By TLAS, Ministry of Interior, with the help of the UN on how to register difficult cases. In most cases, a Roma family will still find it very difficult to deal with the situation without a support network that encourages and helps them to register. That’s why all concerned professionals and administrators need to be committed and have the skills to deal with complex cases – in the census offices, health professionals, civil society organizations. Service providers need to know the anti-discrimination law, parents need to be better informed about the steps to take, the prescribed incentives for birth registration should be made available and free legal aid if necessary. If possible, administrative procedures should be applied even in difficult cases, to ensure a child is registered even if other legal battles continue.
The UN continues to support the government social inclusion agenda and any efforts that enable Roma communities to fully enjoy their rights.