More than 60 percent of Indonesian minors do not have a birth certificate, depriving them of a range of civic services, including enrolling at school.
Mayong, a lawyer with the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), said 50 million of the 78 million Indonesians under the age of 18 did not have a birth certificate, based on data from the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry.
“A child without a birth certificate is commonly perceived as being born outside wedlock, which in Indonesian society carries with it negative stigma,” he said at a discussion on the issue on Thursday.
“Besides that, the child will also encounter difficulty getting access to education, as well as to other socioeconomic and cultural rights once they get older.”
A birth certificate is required for a child to be enrolled in school, get a passport and, upon turning 17, apply for an ID card, or KTP. As an adult, they will also need a birth certificate to get a marriage license and apply for jobs as civil servants or with state-owned companies.
Maria Ulfa Anshor, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI), said receiving a birth certificate should be a universal right because of its fundamental importance.
“From a human rights perspective, a birth certificate should be a basic right for all children because it represents the sole legal confirmation of their existence,” she said.
Under the 2006 Residency Administration Law, parents have 60 days from the birth of their child in which to apply for a birth certificate. Once the period has expired, the parents must apply through a district court and pay a fine of up to Rp 1 million ($112).
Maria said most parents were unaware of the time limit, while others were discouraged from applying because of the illegal fees levied by population services officials.
Purba Hutapea, the head of the Jakarta population office, said another factor for the low number of applications was the fact that few of those submitted had the required supporting documentation.
“This includes the proof of birth from the hospital where the child was born and the parents’ marriage certificate,” he said.
“They’re really very simple requirements, but many people still fail to comply with them.”
The Jakarta population office kicked off a campaign on Monday, set to run until the end of the year, to allow parents of children born as far back as 2007 to apply for a birth certificate without having to go through the courts or pay the fine.
Separately, administrative law expert Irman Putra Sidin, from Hassanuddin University in Makassar, said the government needed to do more to encourage parents to apply for birth certificates for their children.
“The government can’t just stay silent and expect people to take the initiative on issues like this,” he said.
He argued that because most Indonesians had a low level of education, they were unlikely to know about the terms for applying for the document or the disadvantages of not having it.