(Freetown, Wednesday 12 February, 2020) – The Director Generalof the National Civil Registration Authority Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, has received the newly printed securitised births and deaths certificates from the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at the Authority’s Conference Room on Walpole Street, Freetown.
The handing over ceremony which attracted the presence of senior staff from NCRA, UNICEF, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Media was chaired by the NCRA Director of Information Communication and Education (IEC), Thomas P. Sowa. He appealed to the media to continue to raise awareness about the importance of registering births and deaths and obtaining certificates for these vital events.
In her address, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Rushnan Murtaza, said that she was very pleased to handover a consignment of 170,000 newly printed securitised births certificates and 120,000 newly printed securitised death certificates to the NCRA. She maintained that the new certificates have been printed in line with specific Government guidelines, which will minimize chances of counterfeiting. The Deputy UNICEF representative underscored the importance of a birth certificate to the very existence of a child in any country, especially Sierra Leone.
“These certificates will contribute to the unwavering efforts of NCRA of making access to a birth certificate a reality for all children” Rushnan Murtaza stated.
She informed the media and other attendees at the handing over ceremony that a birth certificate is a proof of legal identity and emphasized that it is the basis upon which children can establish a nationality in every country, avoid the risk of statelessness and seek protection from violence and exploitation. She added that the right to be recognized as a person in any country before the law starts from obtaining a birth certificate, as it ensures a lifelong protection to mankind, especially children. She confirmed that several international conventions underpinned the importance of giving a child a name, especially Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which underscores the right to name a child.
“The printing of these new certificates is one important step on the journey towards guaranteeing that every child in Sierra Leone is duly registered with civil authorities and to make sure that no child is left behind” she said.
Rushnan Murtaza informed the Director General of NCRA that UNICEF stands ready to actualize the recommendations from the 2019 Comprehensive Country Assessment of the Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management system, by creating public awareness and knowledge on Civil Registration, Vital Statistics for better public participation and also to provide quality service delivery through a continuously-trained and well-resourced staff.
She also assured the DG of UNICEF’s continued support in providing technical assistance to NCRA towards building a digital platform using mobile technology, which she said will help monitor the notification of new births by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) to NCRA.
She recognized the tireless effort of the Director General of NCRA in ensuring that everyone is registered especially children under age 5. Despite these gains, she encouraged the DG to focus more effort in making sure that every child born in Sierra Leone obtains a birth certificate which currently stands at 33%.
“Data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2017, tells us that 81% of children under the age of five are registered, making the country one of those with the highest registration rate in the region” she confirmed.
While receiving the Certificates on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, the Director General of NCRA Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, extended gratitude to the Government and UNICEF for their invaluable efforts in ensuring that Sierra Leone is in conformity with international best practice.
The Director General affirmed that the handing over ceremony of the securitised and serially numbered births and deaths certificates was the beginning of the realization of the commitment made by His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2019. He said it is part of President Bio’s New Direction Agenda in making sure that development is giving a human face by providing a singular, securitised, and serially numbered instrument- birth certificate, to every citizen of this country.
Mr. Massaquoi informed the media that these certificates will help strengthen and give more credence to birth registration system in the country, as it is the ultimate foundation for legal identity in any country around the world.
“These instruments cannot be forged. They constitute the National Identification Numbers (NIN) that are assigned to every resident in Sierra Leone (citizens and foreign residents) and are non-duplicating, non-reusable and non-replicating” the Director General assured the audience.
The Director General also said that with the availability of these securitised and serially numbered births and deaths certificates, coupled with sustained and increased awareness on the importance of Civil Registration for individuals and families, access to government services such as entitlements, pension benefits and democratic governance will increase demand for these services significantly. He called on the Ministry of Finance and other Development Partners to complement the support provided by UNICEF in providing adequate births and deaths registration instruments so that stock out will be a thing of the past.
Mohamed A. Bangura, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Directorate of Policy and Planning, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), thanked NCRA, UNICEF and the government of Sierra Leone for guaranteeing lifelong protection for the people of this country, by providing them with securitised births and deaths certificates. He noted that MOHS is working closely with NCRA to ensure that every child has a birth certificate.
The Acting Director of Births and Deaths Brima Kamara commended UNICEF for their continued support in strengthening civil registration, vital statistics and Identity management system in Sierra Leone. He said that these securitised certificates will adequately serve its purpose, as they will complement government’s effort in the fight against fraud in the country through illegal identity.
The ceremony was climaxed with a formal handing over of books of the securitised births and deaths certificates by the UNICEF Deputy Representative Rushnan Murtaza to the NCRA Director General Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi.