National Human Rights Commission welcomes birth registration of undocumented foreigners’ kids

welcomes birth registration

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) welcomed a recent move by the Ministry of Justice to allow undocumented foreign residents to register their children’s births, calling it “the first step in guaranteeing the human rights of all children.”

The NHRCK said in a statement Thursday that the Ministry’s decision will help protect all children, regardless of their nationality, from abuse and mistreatment.

Earlier this week, the Ministry announced plans to establish a registration system for non-Korean children born here, in a bid to guarantee their child-related rights and benefits.

“The act on the registration of family relations limits birth registration to Korean nationals, thereby excluding children born between undocumented foreign nationals from various child-related benefits and protections,” said the NHRCK in a statement.

Under the current law, foreign parents without legal status here cannot register their children.

The human rights watchdog pointed out that such children may be left in blind spots in child protection due to limited access to medical and educational benefits from the government, and may easily be at risk of child abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.

It also noted that the agency had already recommended the government to allow the birth registration of all children as a first step to ensure children’s rights in 2019.

International organizations have also repeatedly recommended the Korean government to enable birth registrations of all children, as Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates, “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”

While calling for the cooperation of the government and the National Assembly for the swift enactment of related laws, the agency suggested enforcement of the birth notification system, which will obligate hospitals and medical personnel that were involved in childbirth to report it to the state.

Under the current system, only the birth parents are obliged to register their children’s births. But many children’s rights activists have pointed out that this situation may leave children “invisible” in state records if the parents do not choose to register them.

“In order to effectively run the system, the government should review various measures, such as the birth notification system, to ensure that the registration of every childbirth occurs, regardless of the parents’ social and legal status,” it said.


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