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Oct 18, 2017

Free-For-All at Vital Statistics: Birth Certificate Not Secure

The Vital Statistics Unit is at least partly computerized although a vault of the old books with manual entries of births is still maintained. The newly-appointed Assistant Registrar for the Unit, Patricia Hinkson, notes that it is still possible for anyone to walk in to register although most are done at the hospitals. But as with David Nanes Schnitzer, Rafic Labboun and the Marleny Castellanos cases of a few years ago, is it also still possible for someone not born in Belize to obtain a Belizean birth certificate? Here was the back and forth between the Senators and Assistant Registrar over the point, which seems to indicate that not much has changed.

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“Some years ago there was a person who was caught with a birth certificate. Now he wasn’t born in Belize, wasn’t Belizean, but he was found using the birth certificate of somebody who was born I believe in Shipyard, and pretending that he was that person born in Shipyard. So clearly he went to the Vital Statistics Unit, and the document was issued out of the Vital Statistics Unit as far as I am aware – it was not a forged document, a fake birth certificate – it was a real birth certificate, but it was issued to a person who was not the real person.”

 

Patricia Hinkson, Assistant Registrar, Vital Statistics Unit

“But anybody can apply for a birth certificate.”

 

Patricia Hinkson

Aldo Salazar

“Right, so that is really what I think my colleague is trying to get at: what measures are there which would assist something like that not occurring? Or is it something that we can’t prevent, because anybody can apply for a birth certificate and pretend to be somebody?”

 

Patricia Hinkson

“Anybody can apply; anybody can come into the office and apply for my birth certificate. That’s just the rule; anybody can apply for a birth certificate.”

 

Elena Smith, Senator for Trade Unions and Civil Society

“But there has to be something in place though, that if I go and apply for a birth certificate for you, there has to be something in place that tells you, the person who is receiving, that I am authorized to do so. There’s nothing?”

 

Patricia Hinkson

“(Shakes head) No, no. Once that person has his or her Social Security or passport, they can apply for any document in that unit.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“It’s a public record?”

 

Patricia Hinkson

“That’s right.”

 

Elena Smith

“If I apply for you, I have to have only an I.D. for myself?”

 

Patricia Hinkson

“So they can scan that I.D.”

 

Elena Smith

“To show who applied for it, so in the end if it turns out that that is not a proper paper, then you would be able to find…”

 

Patricia Hinkson

“If the document is used by someone else, then you can tell exactly whose I.D. was scanned and who signed because they also have to sign a signature pad.”

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