A major issue for migrant children is statelessness. In some countries, migrant children have identification documentation from their home countries. The situation is more complicated when children do not have identification documentation for any country. Most of the children that cross the border, for whatever reason, do not have any legal identification documentation, as their birth was never registered in Burma. Unfortunately, this means they are denied access to the Thai education system.
Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Child Rights (CPPCR)
CPPCR has created an innovative program to create delivery certificates and birth records for children. This work has been done in the true spirit of public-private partnership, with the Thai government, community based organisations, and MTC.
Delivery Certificates and Child Documentation
In order to attend school in Thailand, all children need a birth certificate showing that they were born in Thailand. In 1994 MTC began issuing delivery certificates to all children born at the clinic in an attempt to address this problem. Although not official birth certificates, they provide enough information and authority for children to access the schools. The cards were also part of an attempt to address the issues stemming from the statelessness of children who were not officially recognised by any government. An update to the delivery certificates was made in 2001 after it was decided that the information provided in the 1994 delivery certificate lacked sufficient detail.
In 2003 MTC collaborated in the establishment of the Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Child Rights (CPPCR). Collaborative meetings were then held with CPPCR, other CBOs, Burma Lawyers Council, and the Thai Lawyers Society, to further discuss the documentation of the Burmese children. The results came in the form of two types of documentation for children: the Birth Registration Record, for children who already have a delivery certificate from any hospital (whether in Thailand or Burma) and babies who are presented to CPPCR within 15 days of birth. The second type is the Child Record, for all children under 15 years of age who do not possess any form of documentation.
Today CPPCR works not only on registration, but also on child rights advocacy, coordinating and participating in many child rights and child protection campaign activities, such as the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child voting events, and International Children’s Day.
MTC continued to issue its own delivery certificates until July 2008, at which point a new collaboration was established with the Thai Ministry of Health; the staff of MTC are now authorised to record births in the ‘Maternal and Child Health Booklet’ distributed by the Thai government. This booklet is a record of all the mother’s maternal health care visits. Although the use of these booklets is a more involved process, the benefits are worth it. Not only do the booklets provide a more complete record of the health care that a women has received throughout pregnancy, they also allow Burmese migrants, for the first time, to apply for official Thai Birth Registration Certificates for their children born in Thailand.
With no immediate change foreseen in Burma, the importance of these certificates only increases, especially considering the significant rise in the annual number of births at MTC – from less than 20 deliveries in 1989 to around 3000 deliveries per year, now.