Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has announced his government’s intention to decentralise the services of the Registry of Civil Status, to allow residents of the south to be able to access these services in a more convenient manner.
Presently, the Civil Registry is located in Castries and as such, birth, marriage, death and other such records can only be accessed through that office.
Dr. Anthony was adamant that the services of the registry should not only be available in the north of the island. It is understood that such services will be made available in the town of Vieux Fort in the future.
“I am on record as indicating very clearly, the time has come for us to decentralise these records and the idea that somehow all citizens much come to Castries to sort out their records. That must give way to a decentralized system that allows all citizens access to their records,” he stated at this morning’s session of the House of Assembly.
“That’s one of the mandates of the ministry of legal affairs, to ensure that this happens. The time has come for us to decentralise,” he added.
Amendments to the Civil Status Act, Civil Code Act and Code of Civil Procedure Amendment Act were tabled at Parliament today.
In the past few months, a number of measures were implemented at the Civil Status Registry and Adjudicator’s Office to allay various shortcomings within that department. Dr. Anthony said today’s amendments were necessary to resolve some remaining glitches within the system.
Moreover, Dr. Anthony took the opportunity to note that after months of difficulties in its delivery of service, the registry has done “exceedingly well” in some areas of the in which government implemented the mentioned new measures.
Describing the statistics as “startling”, he highlighted the success rate in the number of applications being processed since the new measures were implemented.
“At the commencement of March this year, we had an estimated 254 applications to resolve civil status matters. Of the 250 (applications), 243 were processed and we had an outstanding number of 11,” he noted, adding that statistics are “a good indication that finally were getting on top of the problem.”
“So very clearly we have come a long way, and the government has made further adjustments. In fact, in last year’s budget we specifically created a post of a registrar of civil status to separate that post from the registrar of Supreme Court. So we can give matters of civil status specific direction and specific resolution that is to say on the basis of the legislation that is before us,” he added.
Much of the amendments tabled in parliament, seek to afford the registrar with additional power, particularly to rectify issues associated with the recording process, such as spelling mistakes and errors in dates.
Through this, the registrar is given a “wide discretion” to be able to address certain issues which he or she would not have been able to in the past.
According to “Clause 25 A. a registrar may at the instance of an applicant or at his or her instance rectify a clerical error in a record of civil status.”
“We are empowering the registrar to take the decision and to do so on the basis of rectification,” Dr. Anthony said.
Meanwhile another modification to the Civil Status Bill provides cabinet with the power to appoint a district registrar upon the recommendation of the minister. The registrar in this case can be instated for a maximum of six years and is eligible for reappointment.