Legal Monitor: Right to Identity Edition

The Legal Monitor Right to Identity Edition shares the inspiring story of how a 16 year-old girl can now pursue her educational exploits after getting assistance from ZLHR to obtain a birth certificate allowing her to register in order to write her Ordinary Level examinations. It also highlights how obtaining identity documents in Zimbabwe is an onerous task and how ZLHR in partnership with ZHRC, have been assisting citizens to navigate stumbling blocks in acquiring birth certificates, national identity documents, marriage certificates and death certificates. Read on!

ZLHR ends mum and teen’s I.D and birth certificate anguish

A 16 year-old girl will now write her Ordinary Level examinations after she managed to obtain a birth certificate following a protracted battle with authorities, which ended following the intervention of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). The 16 year-old minor was set to miss the registration deadline set by Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) for people seeking to sit for Ordinary Level examinations scheduled for early December. The minor’s mother, Memory Mupanganyama, had failed to obtain a birth certificate for her child because she did not have a national identity document to prove she is the girl’s mother. The RegistrarGeneral’s Office (RG) in Bikita, Masvingo province, had declined to issue her with a national identity document claiming that she had previously obtained another national identity document, a claim she denied.

Conundrums over acquisition of national documentation

It might be a fundamental right. But getting identity documents is a herculean task in Zimbabwe, where thousands struggle to access basic services such as education and health due to lack of documentation. Section 35(3) of the Constitution states that all Zimbabwean citizens have a right to identity documents issued by the State. But corruption, underfunding, poor planning and sheer neglect have left many Zimbabweans scrambling to access and enjoy that right. Working with agencies such as Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Social Service and community NGOs, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has been fighting to ensure that citizens get access to identity documents.

Right to identity a fundamental human right

Access to national documentation is at the core of the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms, says Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi. In his foreword in the report of the National Inquiry on Access to Documentation in Zimbabwe released recently and clearly resonates with the work of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) under its Right to Identity Campaign, Mugwadi said ZHRC launched the inquiry in order to address the plight of numerous people affected by lack of national documentation.

Read the full Legal Monitor here (4mMB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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