The lack of an official identity – birth certificate and later ID card – affects almost every aspect of the lives of unregistered Moroccan children and prevents them from achieving many of their human rights. It condemns them to a lifetime of secondary citizenship and likely hardship. Access to secondary education and social and health services are limited.
It is difficult to adequately protect children against child labor or underage imprisonment when their age cannot be easily verified, and many risk becoming victims of trafficking. As they reach maturity, they are unable to work legally, and must be satisfied with illegal employment, putting them at high risk of resorting to crime. Furthermore, the psychological effect of the experiences of children in these difficult circumstances can increase their vulnerability. Children who do not know the details of their origin or their birthday may lack a sense of belonging, which can lead to low self-esteem.
According to Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, each child has the right to their identity and the right to be registered immediately after birth. Although Moroccan law requires the registration of all children in the Etat Civil, the registration rate in rural and mountainous areas, especially in the south, is low. In addition to lack of access in these areas and economic limitations, there are other significant practical barriers facing Moroccan children, especially if they are born outside marriage or if their parents are single or unknown.
In 2012, MCT/FAPE carried out a needs analysis which identified lack of birth registration as one of the main reasons why children had not attended school or received basic health care. Following this, from 2012-2014 MCT/FAPE ran successful baseline pilot research to map the individual and institutional challenges of birth registration in Taroudant, Morocco. We assisted over 650 people without identity papers. Our work included public education events, case support, training sessions with local officials and associations, as well as promoting changes to simplify registration processes.
Read our Identity Papers Project Brief to learn more about lack of birth registration in Morocco.
The culmination of the pilot project was a regional conference, “Child Protection and the Right to Civil Registration” in December 2014, attended by key stake-holders including local government and other statutory bodies. MCT/FAPE have worked to engage all stakeholders in a process of system change to make universal registration a reality, and to ensure that no child is denied registration because of a failing in the administrative systems. Read the conference report in French here.
In 2016-2017, we expanded this work to the entire region of Souss-Massa in Morocco and implemented Project CARE (Citizens’ Access to Registration) with the support of Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) through the US Embassy in Rabat. CARE aimed to extend our impact with a schedule of activities that pushed for legislative reform on a national level ensuring that all Moroccans can obtain legal identity and thus be able to fully participate in a more just society.
We aimed to increase registration rates, citizens’ participation in registration and its reforms, and bring about positive legislative reform. Our rights-based approach helped ensure that the most disadvantaged and marginalized children and families in southern Morocco have access to education, health and employment, promoting equality and a brighter future.
In the wake of our national conference on birth registration in the spring of 2017, we submitted a bill to members of parliament for judicial reform of the civil registration process. The government of Morocco then set up an inter-ministerial committee on birth registration to consider the issue, demonstrating the national impact of the programme.
Through Project CARE, we organised 77 awareness raising events reaching over 5000 members of the public and trained 750 local actors in the procedures for registering children. We also helped 342 families access legal identity for their children.
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To learn more about the kind of children we help, click here.