Mr Palm's speech during the round table on Birth Registration organized by UNICEF office on 5 December 2012
I have been almost 4 years in Albania, and while I have seen a lot of progress happening, I am puzzled that so little progress has been made in ensuring the registration of all children when they are born. It was one of the first things I heard - on my first trip outside Tirana to Korca - that registering children at birth was still problematic for certain population groups. I was told that a law existed that should provide for incentives for parents who register their children, but I was told that the incentives (5000 Lek?) were never paid out. At least, the penalties have been removed if you are late. But still, it is inexplicable why so many children remain unregistered.
Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child says that to be registered at birth is the first right of every child. While we would normally expect that parents make sure this happens, the State cannot look on if parents don't do this.
Albania is a state party to the convention. Albania's last progress report was reviewed by the Geneva Committee of the Rights of the Child, which issued its recommendations on 2 October - for all to read on the internet:
The Committee notes with concern that insufficient awareness raising has been conducted about the law "On the Civil Registration Offices" (of 2009). I have to say that UNICEF alone provided orientation for 138 participants from Fier, Tirana and Elbasan in this year - as well as legal assistance (74 cases resolved). But this is not enough.
The committee is also concerned that birth registration is not free; that registration of all children immediately after birth is not ensured, and that Roma and poor children, children born abroad, outside maternity homes, and of early marriages are the ones most affected. And one possible effect of this is - for instance - that children may be refused access to schools.
The Committee urges the State Party, as a matter of priority, to establish a system ensuring the registration of all children; that registration is free. Proactive measure should be undertaken for population groups whose birth registration remains problematic. Clear instructions should go out to schools that all children should be enrolled irrespective of their registration status.
I also like to quote Mr. Pierre Mirel in his letter to Mr. Ksera and Ms. Bregu earlier this year, where he - among many other things - asks that maternity wards and hospitals perform their obligations related to birth registration and reporting in an effective and systematic manner, liaising with civil Registry Offices, even if the mother is not registered. Special attention should be paid for children outside maternity wards. Authorities need to engage with Roma and civil society to get the issue resolved.
I have little to add to this, but look forward to learn what has happened and what is planned. I am also interested to get your views on a suggestion we have made, whereby all births are immediately notified by maternity homes or qualified professionals when they happen - namely by a smartphone. This would send out an alert to the Civil Registration Office, that can be followed up as needed - by either the parent, the maternity professionals, or the civil registry as needed. Some may say that this and the other measures needed are too expensive. But it is easy to figure out that in action will be more expensive - for instance in terms of legal or social costs.