Registration of the births of children of refugees

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Registration of the births of children of refugees

What is the issue?

If a newborn’s parents are not able to present official documents proving their identities, their child will not receive a birth certificate right away. A certified extract from the Birth Registry can be issued to serve as a substitute for the birth certificate. However, a registry extract of this kind contains the information that the parents’ identities could not be proven, with the result that some refugee parents encounter problems relating to the recognition of these extracts by state and other service providers. This is despite the fact that a certified extract from the Birth Registry is legally equivalent to a birth certificate (sections 54(2) and 55(1) of the German Civil Status Act (PStG)). Officials may issue a document attesting to the deferment of the issue of the certificate, but such a document is not considered an official certificate under civil status law and is thus not a suitable instrument for an interim period.

On the contrary: children who go for months without receiving either a birth certificate or a certified extract from the birth registry are "invisible" in the eyes of the State during this time.

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What does the Convention of the Rights of the Child require?

Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) requires that every child be registered immediately after birth. A great many of the other rights under the UN CRC cannot be exercised in the absence of proof of identity. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has frequently underscored the necessity of swift registration, most recently in 2014, and expressed concern about the relevant practices in Germany.

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How is the National CRC Monitoring Mechanism egaging with this issue?

The National CRC Monitoring Mechanism has been very active on this issue since first taking up its work. It published an informational handout entitled "How to register your newborn child. Information for refugees", in partnership with the Berliner Hebammenverband and the Deutsche Akademie für  Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V.  It has also issued press releases drawing attention to the problems being encountered by refugee parents. With its work in this area, the National CRC Monitoring Mechanism is responding to feedback from civil society and to the findings from its own inquiries. It will continue to follow up on this issue.

It has also issued press releases drawing attention to the problems being encountered by refugee parents. With its work in this area, the National CRC Monitoring Mechanism is responding to feedback from civil society and to the findings from its own inquiries. It will continue to follow up on this issue, including through its cooperation with the Humboldt Law Clinic.

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Further Information

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Contact

Stephan Gerbig
Researcher and Policy Adviser
Phone: +49 30 25 93 59 - 475
e-mail: gerbig(at)institut-fuer-menschenrechte.de