Solomon Islands has taken another step forward in improving its services to citizens with the official launching of its new Electronic Civil Registration Database System, replacing the previous paper- based system, on Friday 7th February in Honiara.
This new system guarantees a much more secure, centralized, reliable and transparent system of storing and maintaining records of all births in Solomon Islands, as well as capturing and maintaining data on other key vital events such as deaths, causes of deaths, changes of names, and eventually other functions including marriages and adoptions.
During the launch, the Prime Minister Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, the Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Fred Fakarii, together with Fiona Misake, 11 year old girl from Malaita province, had their births registered and were presented with their birth certificates.
The Prime Minister opened his official remarks at the launch of the system emphasizing how it marks a very significant milestone in the development of the country. In explaining to the audience what birth registration is, the Prime Minister highlighted that, “a birth certificate is the most tangible proof that a Government legally recognizes a child as a Member of society” and that a child who is not registered at birth is invisible in the eyes of the authorities.”
Chief of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Solomon Islands, Mr Yun Jong Kang, highlighted the importance of birth registration as the right of every child. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that every child has the right to be registered at birth without any discrimination, however birth registration is more than just a right; it is the starting point for recognizing a child’s identity and existence.”
He explained that birth registration guarantees a birth certificate which is essential to access key services such as school enrolment, health treatment, social security benefits, opening a bank account, obtaining a passport to travel overseas, as well as supporting the enforcement of minimum age legislation as in the case of child marriage or children getting in contact with the justice system.
The coverage of birth registration of children in Solomon Islands is currently unknown. However, according to a UNICEF-supported assessment carried out in 2007, Solomon Islands is estimated to be the lowest in the Pacific with approximately 0.1% of all births formally registered in 2007.
Yun Jong Kang said that because of this, UNICEF’s support aims to assist the Solomon Islands Government to progress towards its target of 100% births registered in Solomon Islands by 2015, as detailed in the Solomon Islands’ National Children’s Policy.
Among the key efforts to strengthen birth registration coverage in Solomon Islands since 2010, the partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health to facilitate direct registration at birth through selected health facilities across the country (currently in Honiara, Western Province, Choiseul Province and Guadalcanal), as well as the establishment of the centralized electronic database to strengthen accuracy and reliability of Civil Registration data and processes.
“It is our hope that the Government will fully integrate this system into the Ministry of Home Affairs plan, including future allocation of human and financial resources, to ensure sustainability”.
Mr Kang also acknowledged the partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, Development partners, particularly WHO and SPC, together with funding support from the European Union, Australian Government, and the New Zealand Government.
Birth Registration and Civil Registration services are currently available in Honiara, at the Civil Registration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs, level 6, Anthony Saru Building.
Source: Press Release, UNICEF Solomon Islands