by Fonban Emmanuel
The National Assembly on Monday, 16 November 2020 organised a special plenary sitting on the civil status in Cameroon in which a special attention was paid on the difficulties in obtaining birth certificates especially in regions with social unrest.
The special sitting was presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Hilarion Etong. The Minister of Justice, Minister of Decentralisation, Minister of Health, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Education Ministers were present and including members of parliament who convened to join in the deliberations to seek ways of making easy, processes that can enable children to have birth certificates.
In an opening speech, Hon. Hilarion Etong welcomed members of government and parliamentarians who showed up and said no nation can be built and modernised if the majority of its citizens do not have birth certificates, which is an essential document in the life of a citizen.
“Without a birth certificate the citizen has no formal legal existence. He cannot be entitled to the nationality that ascribes rights to citizens” said the Deputy speaker.
The Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Justice, Jean de Dieu Momo present at the session briefed the members of parliament on the some of the efforts that have been made by the government to ease procedures of acquiring birth certificates.
To the Minister of Decentralisation, George Elang Obam, there are over five hundred thousand children without birth certificates.
After the long deliberations, the task was transferred to Mayors to do sensitizations within their councils to ensure that parents see the need to give birth to their children under proper health conditions. Some parliamentarians however, made recommendations for the government to establish social security numbers of every children after birth so as to ease follow up if need arises. “A lot of people have faced difficulties in Cameroon because of double identity and if we had this, we won’t have this problem” said Hon Gerard Ngala as he endorsed the need for social security numbers.
The Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie on his part, added that with the national health coverage, it will be important for the all the citizens to have birth certificates so that the government knows who is being treated.
The war plaguing the English-speaking regions of Cameroon and the Boko Haram insurgency in the North is one of the reasons that was raised for difficulties for parents to make birth certificates for their kids since a good number of parents now give birth to children in bushes. These issues were raised by parliamentarians but the central point was that many efforts need to come on board to facilitate the ease to produce this essential document for children.