“Kick for Identity”- Soccer tournament starts with a call to ensure birth registration for #everychild

20 February 2019
UNICEF Timor-Leste/2019/Helin

DILI, 19 February 2019 –  A month long Junior soccer tournament started today in Manatuto Municipality with a call to ensure birth registration for every child. Children aged between 10 and under 14 from 17 clubs of Manatuto subdistricts will participate in the tournament. 

Manuel Carceres da Costa, Minister of Justice along with Mericio Juvinal dos Reis Akara, Secretary of State for Social Communication, Roy Trivedy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations, Valerie Taton, Representative, UNICEF Timor-Leste and Fernando de Sousa, District Administrator inaugurated the tournament in the Manatuto Stadium.

“Birth registration is an official government record of the birth of your child,” said Manuel Carceres da Costa, Minister of Justice, during the inauguration of the tournament. “It is an important document that will ensure access to a range of social services as well as protection of your child”, he continued. He called parents and caregivers to ensure birth registration of their child at birth and collect the certificate.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the child, a name and nationality are every child rights. Timor-Leste ratified the convention in 2003 and made commitment to fulfil all rights of children that every child could grow with full potentials.

“The child who is not registered at birth is in danger of being shut out of society – denied the right to an official identity, a recognized name and a nationality.” said Valerie Taton. “This child is invisible for the society as he/she does not legally exist. A birth certificate is like a ‘membership card’ for society that should open the door to the enjoyment of a whole range of other rights including education and health care, participation and protection. The birth certificate proves how old they are – or even who they are. And, with no proof of age and identity, they may lack the most basic protection against abuse and exploitation. In later life, the unregistered child may be unable to apply for a passport or formal job, open a bank account, get a marriage license, stand for elective office or vote.” 

Mericio Juvinal dos Reis Akara, Secretary of State for Social Communication, Roy Trivedi, Resident Coordinator, United Nations, Administrator of Manatuto and a representative of children also spoke during the event.

According to the census 2015, the national average of birth registration of children aged under 5 is more than 60 per cent though the number children pose birth certificate for the same age group is above 29 per cent. Manatuto municipality is one among the six municipalities, only have 22.4 per cent of children of the same age group have birth certificate followed by Manufahi, Viqueque, Covalima, Ermera and Baucau municipalities.

Birth registration is not only a crucial individual right. The importance of registration – or the lack of it – goes beyond the individual. Without strong civil registration systems, it is virtually impossible to plan or implement effective development strategies. Unregistered children who do not show up in the data are often overlooked in social development planning. They are completely invisible when important policy and budget decisions are made. And without proper birth registration, a country cannot even be certain of its own birth or death rate. 

Birth registration is a fundamental step towards good governance and a vital element in the fostering of democratic processes. Not only does the process of registration allow effective administration and bring children to the notice of decision-makers, it is the official and positive recognition of a new member of society, who is entitled to all the rights and responsibilities of a valued citizen. 

Currently, birth and civil registration comes under the jurisdiction of the National Directorate of Civil Registration and Notary under the Ministry of Justice. There are 13 civil registration offices, one in the capital town of every municipality. In addition, there are Notary Offices in Dili, Baucau and Oe-Cusse. Whether a birth takes place in a health facility or at home, the registration process is the responsibility of the family. A Civil Registry Code was drafted in 2013, pending approval by the Council of Ministers.  

With the support of the Japan Government, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Justice along with other relevant ministries to increase awareness on the importance of birth registration and improve birth registration system. This activity is part of celebration of 30 years of the Convention on the rights of the child – See us, Listen to us.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org/timorleste 
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Antonio Gomes, Communication Officer, UNICEF Timor-Leste (Tetum queries)
Phone: +670-77232441 Email: angomez@unicef.org
Arifa S. Sharmin, Communication Specialist, Communication Section, UNICEF Timor-Leste
Phone: +670-77231103 Email: assharmin@unicef.org (English queries)

Media Contacts

Rukshan Ratnam

Communication Specialist (English)

UNICEF Timor-Leste

Tel: +67077231103

Tel: +670 331 1300, Extension: 1820

Antonio Gomes

Communication Officer (Tetum)

UNICEF Timor-Leste

Tel: +670 7723 2441

Tel: +670 331 1300, Extension: 1821


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook