On June 30, 2012, the Modernization and Integration of Haiti’s Civil Registry project, financed by the Government of Canada and implemented by the Organization of American States (OAS), will conclude its current phase of activities in Haiti.
Since 2005, the OAS, in partnership with the Government of Haiti, has provided technical support to the Office of National Identification (ONI), which has issued national identification cards to 5,054,214 adults to date. The identity cards feature biometric security measures and a unique national identification number and can be used to vote, conduct commercial transactions and apply for government benefits. To achieve this result, the project has invested in building ONI as a functional institution, training more than 2,000 staff and providing equipment and technology to the 141 offices throughout the country.
ONI is a key player in Haiti’s electoral process. Since 2006, the ONI provides the necessary civil registry information to the Electoral Council (CEP) to support the generation of the electoral list for five separate electoral processes. In anticipation of the partial legislative, municipal and local elections, ONI, with project support, has purchased materials to produce up to 450,000 new identification cards and is doubling the capacity of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System to 10 million registers, a key step to preparing for the future.
An important component of reforming civil registry in Haiti is a modernized birth-registry process that brings services closer to the people. The Project in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) launched a registration of newborns campaign in which civil registry offices were placed in Maternity wings of two inner-city hospitals of Port au Prince. Within a span of 9 months, registration rates doubled and 14,198 newborns received a birth certificate, granting them the right to an identity.
Nevertheless, a number of legal, procedural and economic factors make civil identity elusive for a significant number of children in Haiti. Following consultations with civil society and with the technical support of the Quebec National School of Public Administration (ENAP) the Project has drafted and made available to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security legislation to make the civil registry system more efficient, transparent and nondiscriminatory.
At the National Archives of Haiti, the Project is putting in place a searchable civil registry database. Once complete, this tool will help prevent identity fraud and reduce month-long wait times to receive essential documents related to identity, and ultimately allow for better Government planning. To date, 16,270,884 birth, death, marriage, divorce and adoption registers have been scanned, but more work is needed, particularly in data entry. The national institutions intend to continue work at a reduced scale, despite the conclusion of the project.
This project has been made possible through a generous contribution of $15.6 million from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 2008 to 2012.
OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, Chairman of the Group of Friends of Haiti, says the OAS remains committed to the development of Haiti, and recognizes the importance of the contribution of CIDA to this project. “This has been a tangible example of co-operation and support, in the interest of a Member State” said Ramdin.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org