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February 23, 2019

Deleting a parent's name from child's birth certificate

We all have an identity. Nobody walks around without a name. In most countries, names are assigned to children by their parents. In many parts of the world, there is usually song and dance during the child naming ceremony.

Article 53 (1) (a) of the constitution provides that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth. This is a right available to all children.

Section 11 of the Children’s Act provides that every child shall have a right to a name and nationality and that where a child is deprived of his identify, the government shall provide appropriate assistance and protection with a view of establishing his identity.

The law that regulates the procedure of the issuance of names in Kenya is the Registration of Births and Deaths Act. According to the act, the name of a child can be changed so long as the child is less than two years old. After the age of two, the act is silent when it comes to the question of name change.

Can one delete the name of a father’s child from a birth certificate after two years? The Registration of Births and Deaths Act is silent when it comes to this question. The registrar of births cannot just delete the parent’s name. This would lead to anarchy.

However some situations can and do arise where the parents would like to change the names initially entered in the birth certificate of a child. Although it is not advisable to delete the parents’ names from the birth certificates of children, it should not be made impossible to do it.

Given that the registrar lacks the power in law to effect such changes, one must seek appropriate orders from the High court.

Justice Ougo dealt with such a situation in High Court Civil Case No.3 of 2014 in FKK and KLM vs The AG and another The child’s mother had requested the registrar of births to have the name of the second respondent deleted from the child’s birth certificate since he wasn’t the biological father. The judge observed as follows in her judgment:

“The applicant states she is the biological mother of the child A K M. She seeks to have the name of the second applicant deleted or removed as the father in the birth certificate of A K M. I have gone through the Births & Deaths Registration Act and I agree with counsel that the said act does not provide for cases such as this one. Should I believe the applicant? I ask myself this because in considering whether to grant the orders sought I have to bear in mind the best interest of the child. The applicant has readily admitted her mistake, she seeks to have the change made due to the reasons given. They appear reasonable and I give her the benefit of doubt. Considering what has been deponed and the interest of the child. I find no reason why the second applicant’s name should remain in the register as the father of the minor. The second applicant does not object to the application. I therefore order that the name of the second applicant K L M shall be deleted and removed as the father in the Birth Certificate of A K M. I also order that the third respondent deletes the name of K L M from the Birth Certificate of A K M.”

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