Over 22 thousand children to be likely undocumented in the Republic of Moldova// Official statistics

Cornelia Cozonac
Copilul de 7 luni al Alinei Dovghii nu este înregistrat oficial. FOTO: CIJM

The Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) revealed in a journalistic investigation that there is a huge discrepancy between the number of live births and the number of birth certificates issued by the authorities in the last five years. This difference is over 22 thousand, which means that so many children would not have IDs, because the number of birth certificates issued each year is several thousand less than the number of children born in the Republic of Moldova. The journalistic investigation was published on the Anticoruptie.md portal on June 1, but authorities have not yet reacted publicly.

The CIJM requested from the Ministry of Health data on the number of live births in the last five years, 2017-2021, and from the Public Services Agency (ASP) - data on the number of birth certificates registered in the same period. General data were compared for each year.

For example, in 2017, according to the Ministry of Health, 37,011 children were born. In the same year, 34,285 birth certificates were issued. With 2,726 fewer documents than children born. Even if we admit that some of the children were registered the following year, the statistics for 2018 are even more desolate. That year, 35,027 children were born and 23,182 birth certificates were issued, the difference is exactly 11,845 (!).

In 2019, 32,894 children were born, and ASP issued 29,152 certificates, by 3,742 fewer documents than children born. In 2020, 31,215 children were born and 29,726 birth certificates were issued. The difference is 1,489. In 2021, 29,657 were born and 26,589 birth certificates were registered, the difference was 3,068 this year as well.

Therefore, if we add up all the figures that show the difference between the number of live births and the number of birth certificates issued by the Moldovan authorities, we get a number of 22,870. This would mean that more than 22,000 children born in the last five years do not have identity documents.

Yet,  there may be more birth certificates, as some parents whose children were born abroad, issue Moldovan birth certificates. For example, Dumitrița Cristea, from a locality in Telenesti district, was born in Germany in July 2019. As both parents are from the Republic of Moldova, they also issued a Moldovan birth certificate for the boy. The child also has a German birth certificate.

Currently, the authorities have not reacted publicly to the data from the journalistic investigation. The child's lawyer Maia Banarescu admitted in the investigation that there is the problem of some undocumented children and that this is due to irresponsibility of parents or bureaucratic procedures for getting documents for parents who have not been documented from generation to generation. According to the Child's Advocate, the local guardianship authorities, from health and education, are responsible for this situation, which should be reported when they find some children at risk.

We requested the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to tell us the number of undocumented children in the Republic of Moldova. The request is still in the legal term in which we can get an official reply , ie, at the time of the journalistic investigation publication, the 15 working days in which the public authority must reply to requests for information, had not expired.

The investigation reveals the case of a mother from the village of Negureni, Telenesti, who has a 7-month-old boy, without identity documents. She, Alina Dovghii, does not have documents and because of this she cannot complete her child's birth certificate either. Alina Dovghii's case is not the only one. The Center for Investigative Journalism has previously conducted surveys on undocumented children.

In the Republic of Moldova, the birth certificate is registered on the basis of the medical birth certificate issued by the health unit where the birth occurred, the report and the certificate confirming the sex and age of the child - in the case of a child found. The medical birth certificate and the birth certificate are issued only upon presentation by the mother of the ID. The lack of it makes it impossible to issue the certificate and, implicitly, leads to the undocumentation of the child, which is admitted by the authorities and law enforcement agencies.

This is despite the fact that, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, "a child is documented from the moment of birth and has, from that moment, the right to a name". This unequivocal wording is an obligation for all States, including the Republic of Moldova, which have ratified the Convention and require that this right be respected and protected.

Cornelia Cozonac

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