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South Africa: Postponed Implementation of Provisions on Parental Kidnapping

(Sept. 22, 2014) On September 16, 2014, South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced that the implementation of two requirements in the country’s new Immigration Regulations aimed at preventing parental kidnapping will be postponed until June 1, 2015. The requirements had originally been slated for implementation on October 1, 2014. (Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, in Relation to the Implementation of New Immigration Regulations on 16 September 2014 in Cape Town, Department of Home Affairs website (Sept. 16, 2014).)

This is not the first deferral of the two requirements. They were due to take effect on July 1, 2014, but their implementation was postponed to October 1, 2014, after there was a widespread outcry from parents that they had not been given adequate time to comply with the new measures. (New Regulations for Travelling Children Postponed to 2015, ENCA (Sept. 16, 2014).)

According to one of the postponed requirements, whenever parents are traveling with a child into or out of South Africa, they must produce for an immigration officer the child’s unabridged birth certificate (a birth certificate from the relevant authority of any country including the particulars of the parents of the child) or a passport that includes particulars of the parents of the child. (Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, supra; Immigration Regulations, 2014, § 6(11), G.N. No. 413 G.G. No. 37679 (May 22, 2014).) According to the other requirement, if only one parent is traveling with the child, he/she must produce the child’s unabridged birth certificate and an affidavit of consent from the other parent, a court order granting the parent full custody, or a death certificate of the other parent, if applicable. (Id. § 6(12).)

According to the Minister, the postponement will allow for the resolution of two main challenges to the proper implementation of the requirements. First, it will provide adequate time for the dissemination of information on the requirements to “missions abroad, travel operators, and prospective travelers around the world.” (Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, supra.) Second, it will give parents and others authorized to travel with children time to comply with the requirements. (Id.) This is in large part related to the fact that South Africa began issuing unabridged birth certificates on the spot only in March 3, 2013, and an estimated 17 million South African children born prior to that date will be affected by the implementation of the Regulations. (Id.)