Anti-extortion campaign: North West mayors commit to free civil registration document issuance 0

At least 13 of the 34 mayors in the North West Region of Cameroon have issued statements emphasizing their commitment to ensuring the free issuance of civil status documents in their respective councils henceforth. They have also expressed their resolve to dismantle “middlemen” networks which often mastermind extortion from those seeking civil registration services.

The announcements come as a response to a campaign led last year by the office of the Public Independent Conciliator (PIC) of the region, condemning extortion by council authorities in the issuance of these important documents.

Among the councils that have announced the free issuance of civil status registration documents, according to the office of the PIC, are those of Andek, Balikumbat, Benakuma, Mbengwi, Misaje, Ndop, Ndu, Njinikom, Nkor, Nkum, Zhoa, Bamenda I, Tubah and Wum.

Last year, the office of the PIC launched a region-wide campaign which was aimed at discouraging the practice whereby poor citizens are made to cough out huge sums of money to either obtain birth, death or marriage certificates in many councils across the region.

The PIC, Simon Tamfu Fai, told Biometric Update in an interview at the time that the campaign was to remind council authorities that collecting money from citizens to register births, deaths or marriages is against the law and that all those involved in such illegal practices were exposing themselves to sanctions spelled out by the laws in force.

“This campaign is prompted by the growing and persistent complaints reported to the Office of the Public Independent Conciliator (PIC) in the North West Region. It is also confirmed by a survey carried out in 2022 which revealed that council administrators collect as much as FACF 15,000 for the issuance of birth certificates and as much as FCFA 100,000 to celebrate marriages,” Fai said then.

Months after the campaign was launched, the PIC reports that many councils in the region are now increasing becoming compliant with the civil status legislation law.

“Following the campaign to promote the free establishment of civil status documents, some mayors have signed municipal orders announcing the free establishment of these documents in their municipalities. The number of press releases signed by mayors in this regard keeps increasing,” the office of the PIC said in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.

“The Public Independent Conciliator, Tamfu Simon Fai, encourages mayors who haven’t started issuing civil status documents free of charge in their municipality to do so, and to sign press releases in this light, as other mayors have done,” the statement adds.

It is expected that the move by the office of the PIC will go a long way in increasing the rate of obtaining civil status documents in the crisis-ridden region, and probably serve as a lesson to the rest of the country where access to civil status registration services remains difficult and expensive.

Source: Biometricupdate