The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office and the South African Learning and Transformation Alliance recently held a Roundtable Discussion on ‘STATELESS CHILDREN’. Cleopas Maseko Director of Thembalethu Nkomazi and Charlotte Manicom Advocacy Officer of the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town made presentations. It was clear from these that in terms the Children’s Act and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child “All actions concerning the child undertaken by any person or authority the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration. Every child shall have the right from his/her birth to a name…Every child shall have the right to a nationality”. However, so many children living in South Africa do not enjoy these rights and are increasingly marginalized. At the present time children without identity documents are being excluded from educational facilities due to a lack of birth certificates or any other proof of identity. Stateless children are unable to obtain such documentation. This effectively means that they are ‘nobody’ and belong ‘nowhere’. It is vitally important to document the incidence of statelessness and advocate for the recognition of the rights of these children.
(L-R: Cleopas Maseko; Charlotte Manicom; and the moderator, Joan Armstrong [Centre for Pastoral Development])