NHRCK Welcomes Ministry of Justice’s Decision to Allow Birth Registration for Children of Undocumented Foreigners
- Registration of every child is the first step to protecting their rights, says NHRCK -
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea fully welcomes the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of February 15 2021 about a plan to allow undocumented foreign nationals to register their children's births and releases the following statement.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the Republic of Korea in 1991, states that every child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society. For this purpose, it is prescribed in Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that every child should be registered immediately after birth.
Birth registration is the first step towards protecting the rights of a child, including protection from all forms of abuse and violence, access to education, healthcare and social protection that match their development levels, and protection of their dignity and happiness.
However, the government of the Republic of Korea only allows birth registration of Korean nationals according to the Act on the Registration etc. of Family Relationships, leaving children of undocumented foreign nationals outside the protection of the law.
Children of undocumented foreigners are exposed to social risks such as abuse, trafficking or exploitation while growing up and have limited access to healthcare, education and social protection. In other words, they are not given full protection of their human rights.
In respond to these circumstances, several UN human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Committee, called on the government of the Republic of Korea to take steps to register births of every child. The NHRCK called for the adoption of universal birth registration system which includes children of foreign nationals as a first step towards protecting fundamental rights of a child when it published the second guidelines on the rights of migrants in 2019.
The Commission calls on the government and the National Assembly to make active efforts to ensure prompt implementation of a birth registration system for children of foreign nationals, which will take the form of special act according to the Ministry of Justice’s announcement. The system should be designed in a way that ensures the registration of every child and prevents stigmatization or discrimination against foreign nationals.
Moreover, to ensure the effectiveness of the system, the NHRCK emphasizes the need to introduce regulations that require doctors or midwives who were involved in the delivery of a baby to report their birth to government or public institutions, as recommended previously by the Commission in 2017, and other measures that allow registration of births of every child regardless of the legal status or nationality of their parents.
The Commission once again welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Justice’s Policy Committee to introduce a birth registration system for children of foreign nationals in an effort to protect the rights of every child. We will remain committed to protecting the rights of every child and actively contribute to creating a society that acknowledges the existence of migrant children and protects their right to lead a happy and meaningful life.