Nani Afrida, Jakarta – The government's plan to issue ID cards for children has met with criticism from activists who call for better public service with regard to birth certificate issuance and child protection.
"Before issuing child ID, how about accomplishing the law's mandate on providing birth certificate to all Indonesian children first?" Seto Mulyadi, a children's rights activist, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
The Home Ministry announced last week that it would issue Kartu Identitas Anak (KIA), or child ID cards, beginning next month. The KIA will be the official form of identification for unmarried Indonesians below the age of 18.
Seto said that many parents still meet with difficulties when trying to obtain birth certificates for their children. They have to deal with a long bureaucratic process, which lower-income people often find difficult to access. "Make the process [to issue a birth certificate] fast and free, this is more important than providing KIA for children," he said.
Seto said many children, especially street children, had no birth certificates. As a consequence, they could not access their right to education, health and or even a place in a cemetery. "We also believe that the KIA will create discrimination and as a result the gap between the rich and poor will get even bigger," Seto added.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) share similar thoughts, saying that there were many other problems related to children that should be prioritized. "The birth certificate is one of issues, the others are child protection as well as family strengthening and self defense programs for children, for them to say 'no' to people who will exploit them," said Erlinda, a spokesperson for KPAI.
In the past four years KPAI received more than 16,000 reports of violence against children across the country's 34 provinces and 179 cities. "Child ID might be important, but it is not a priority," she added.
Erlinda said KIA will help children who get into trouble due to laws or regulation. Based on the government's plan, there will be two categories of KIA, one for children under 5 years of age and one for those between 5 and 17. For newborns, the civil registration agency will issue a KIA along with their birth certificate.
However, it is not clear whether the two identification cards will have to be renewed after a period of time. The government also plans to finance the program using the state budget.
Home Ministry spokesperson Dodi Riyadmadji told the Post that 50 cities throughout Indonesia had initiated the program a year ago. "We expect that all cities will follow the program gradually," Dodi said.
He said that the 50 cities that had already started to implement KIA included Malang in East Java, Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, Bantul regency in Yogyakarta, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Depok in West Java.
Previously the minister of home affairs Tjahjo Kumolo said that KIA would be very important for the children as, for instance, the children can open bank accounts or get an Indonesia health card and an Indonesian smart card using their own names.
"If they go abroad, they don't need to have a passport attached to their parent," Tjahjo said. He also said the ministry would form a special team in each village or sub-village to input child data.