Former Attorney General expresses worry over amendments to Registration of Births Bill

Former Attorney General expresses worry over amendments to Registration of Births Bill

Former Attorney General Basil Williams has expressed some concern over the recently passed Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, pointing out that the piece of legislation is a clear danger in the fight to combat terrorism and transnational crimes and threatens the integrity of the country’s National Register of Registrants.

The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill was passed in the National Assembly earlier this month with sweeping changes.

It provides for a parent to choose any surname for a child and allows for a child to be registered any time after birth.

The Bill was heavily criticized by the Opposition during the debates and now the Former Attorney General is adding his voice to the matter.

In a statement, Mr. Williams said “the recent passage of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill 2021, Bill No. 10 of 2021 presents a clear and present danger to the efforts of the international community to combat the scourge of international terrorism and transnational crimes, and indeed the national security and sovereignty of Guyana. Additionally, this Bill creates the conditions for the eternal feuding of political parties with respect to a credible national register of registrants and electoral lists”.

One of the contentious provisions of the Bill which did not find favuor with the Senior Counsel is the granting of approval for community leaders including Toshaos being empowered to make declarations about the birth of a person.

Williams said it is also dangerous for a Justice of Peace or Commissioner of Oaths to make a statutory declaration on behalf of a stranger.

“Do I need to remind that our borders are porous and may be teeming with traffickers in persons (girls/women), drugs, weapons, gold, and diamonds etc., Guyana can replace Trinidad and Tobago as a breeding ground for terrorist fighters. Already we were labeled with having the No. 3 man in Al Queda. Once you possess such a birth certificate it can be used to acquire a passport a most valuable tool for international terrorists who thrive on having multiple nationalities,” Williams said.

Williams also contends that the amendments can lend themselves to the sale of Guyanese citizenship to dubious characters seeking refuge in Guyana. 

The Government has defended the passage of the Amendment Bill, declaring that it will make it easier for births to be registered.

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