Wrong addresses, slow processing time for birth certificates affecting Indigenous communities

…but Amerindian Affairs Ministry hoping to provide aid


Persons living in Aishalton, Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo) are among those living in far-flung communities who face difficulties acquiring birth certificates.

Aishalton’s Toshao Michael Thomas, however, told the News Room on Thursday that some 30 late registrations for birth certificates were resolved last year.

During the telephone interview, Thomas said the community grappled with the slow registration process at the Guyana Registration Office Guyana and Post Office levels for years.

The process of registering a newborn commences at the hospital just after the baby is born. The issue affecting persons living at far-flung communities is addresses can be misrepresented and the document gets misplaced. When persons go to inquire, they often times have to re-apply.

Toshao of Aishalton, Region Nine, Michael Thomas.

“The process through the post office is very slow. The other thing is [that] we look into a lot of late registration and the process… these documents take more than a year [to arrive], sometimes it doesn’t reach and you find people complaining that they have been applying for over three times now and that is causing those persons not to have their birth certificates on time,” the Toshao said.

This issue is one that has been known for years. A 2018 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), acknowledged that these birth certificate woes affect Indigenous communities.

The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs is, however, committed to providing some redress.

The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the Village Councils have established a new system to assist with ensuring these documents are not misplaced. Thomas said the sub-district in the deep-south has a Board of Guardians which assists with the application process and distribution.

“Persons who are doing late registration now have the chance to have their birth certificates delivered to the Board of Guardians in the Sub-districts to deliver those birth certificates directly to the village councils…the distribution for my villages is just over 30,” Thomas said.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai (Photo: News Room/ January 9, 2024)

It was reported that backlog for registration was due to the pandemic and the implementation of a computerised system. And the GRO’s Registrar General Raymon Cummings said the backlog was being cleared.

To resolve the issue at indigenous communities, Tosahos were last year provided with legal authority to address birth certificate applications by stamping and verifying that they were born in the villages, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai said at press conference this week.

She added that the ministry has registration officers who go to the villages and assist with getting persons with acquiring registration and the certificate.

“Last year we did about 146,100 applications and we have received majority of those.

“It is very helpful and I think it an achievement because there is no registration officer in the village and every resident needs a birth certificate,” the minister said.

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