The Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, provided the tourism industry with an update on why the controversial unabridged birth certificate requirement remains in place, despite Cabinet’s ruling that the regulations should be lifted over a year ago.
Hanekom admitted that while major progress has been made in terms of the dropping of the in-person visa applications for India and China, there was still more work to be done. He explained that the Immigration Act stipulates that changes to regulations have to be made be a regulation board, which was not in place at the time. “A new board has now been appointed and we are in the process of formulating amendments to those regulations,” he said.
In terms of the changes, the Minister said the requirements will be more in line with what is in place in destinations like the US and Canada, where a “strong advisory note” will be issued. This means that in the event of any suspicion, the traveller will have to be able to prove the relationship between themselves and the child they are travelling with.
“There is a global effort to combat human, and in particular, child trafficking. The regulations were made with good intentions, but without sufficient awareness nor consultation to examine the extent to which they could have unintended consequences. We’re not unsympathetic with these intentions, it was simply a question of finding a formula that would minimise the unintended consequences,” said Hanekom.
“I know it’s taken frustratingly long, and while the unabridged birth certificate requirement doesn’t have the same impact on numbers that in-person visa applications had, they certainly have a horrible human impact. We are trying our best to push them along,” he added.