The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has said birth registration is one of six critical child rights issues that require urgent attention in Malawi.
The recommendations are based on the committee’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the country’s child rights interventions.
The six critical measures are birth registration, abuse and neglect, sexual exploitation, harmful practices, children with albinism and adolescent health.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Director of Child Rights, Noris Chirwa, said birth registration is critical in helping tracing children in cases of child trafficking.
“The committee observed that, if children are not registered at birth, then it poses a challenge to trace them in instances of trafficking as well as when a child goes missing,” Chirwa said.
She further said that the recommendations also zero in on adolescent health following a surge in cases of teenage pregnancies due to knowledge gaps on sexual reproductive health issues.
“While we are trying to track what is happening in the protection of child rights, we are saying that the government should make these critical issues a priority. We are also trying to keep government on its toes in the implementation of child rights commitments but, again, working with them on the implementation itself,” Chirwa said.
But Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Chief Gender and Development Officer, Justin Hamela, said child rights protection issues have broader parameters which have varying statistics.
He added that the country has managed to, among other things, harmonise legislations on the definition of a child through the Constitution amendment of 2017— in line with the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the African Regional Committee responsible for the charter on the welfare and rights of the child.
“We are in the process of harmonising the other statutes,” Hamela said.
MHRC, through the European Union-funded Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Project, has been promoting human rights.
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