By: |Fawwad Raza|
Human Rights Day is observed on December 10, every year. First time it was observed in 1948 -the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Pakistan was one of the countries, who signed the declaration in its early days.
On the occasion of the international day of human rights, I thought it was imperative to highlight the issue of street children, most vulnerable to the human rights violation
In Pakistan, most of the street children are deprived of the fundamental right of birth registration which is by the way guaranteed by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the UN charter, which Islamabad is also a signatory.
But before I land into the debate, first I would recall how in the past laws were made pertaining to the identity of a born-child.
In 1886, the then British government introduces The Birth, Marriage and Death Registration Act.¬¬¬¬
Similarly, The Cantonments Act 1924, deals with the registration of children in cantonments.
The Local Government Ordinance 2001, holds the Union administration responsible to maintain the registration system and record of births, deaths and marriages and to issues the certificates.
National Database Registration Authority Ordinance 2000, stipulates the registration of a citizen under 18 years by his/her guardian/ parent, as the timeline is for a month only following the birth of a baby.
The National Registration Act 1973, was promulgated by the government to introduce the concept of issuance of a national identity to every citizen of Pakistan above the age of 18 years.
Charter of Child Rights Act, 2009: Article 5. (1) The Provincial Governments shall ensure that every child is registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from the birth to be named and the right to acquire a nationality.
International Commitments of Pakistan:
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 7 (1). The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular, where the child would otherwise be stateless.
Legal Procedure and Mechanisms for Birth Registration in Pakistan
To make the birth registration procedure efficient parents are directed to get their children registered in respective NADRA offices, union council and cantonment board.
Required documents for NADRA Birth Certificate Pakistan:
• Copy of applicant’s CNIC (if age is above 18)
• Copy of hospital / old birth certificate
• Copy of father’s CNIC / NICOP
• Copy of mother’s CNIC / NICOP
• Copy of applicant’s current passport (if available. Moreover he/she has to provide an additional documentation to prove the place of their birth)
• Filled and signed application form to submit in concerned issuing department (duly attested by BS-17 and above officer)
• If born at the home then they have to provide an affidavit from parents with CNIC copies of 2 witnesses.
Where the Problem lies?
Law requires Parent’s National ID’s for birth registration, without Parent’s ID, street children are unable to get their birth certificate.
This legal binding deprived them of several fundamental human rights i.e.
The right to get health facilities.
Right to get quality education as a birth certificate is basic requirement at the time of admission in the school.
Right to get proper Job and worker’s rights.
Right to travel abroad as, without nationality, street children can’t obtain a passport.
Luckily, if they earn some fortune, they cannot open bank accounts at any stage of their life.
Historic judgment by Supreme Court
In 2014, three members bench of Supreme Court headed by then Chief justice Tassaduq Jeelani announced a historic verdict on the petition filed by philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi (Late).
In the verdict, the court allowed orphanage custodians to become the guardian of the children living in their premises. This judgment finally gave the right of birth registration to the children living in orphanages and shelter houses
But still, there is no solution for the street children living without any supervision, most of them are Afghan refugees
In 2014, PM Imran Khan announced in his speech to provide nationality to Afghan and Bengali citizens, born in Pakistan.
Moreover, street children have a long journey to make for accessing the basic fundamental human right of birth registration, ensured by the constitution and UN charter.
The writer is a Digital media Journalist and Social Activist: He tweets at