Without an ID, accessing justice is impossible
Argentina / Freedom for Justice / 22 mar 2018
An estimated 1.1 billion people around the world are prevented from accessing legal and social protections because they lack a secure legal identity. People without a secure legal identity are often socially, economically and politically excluded. A person without an ID cannot access health, education or justice. They cannot report a crime or travel or rent a property. They have no inheritance rights. They cannot vote, work legally, or claim retirement or social benefits.
In Argentina, hundreds of thousands of “invisible” people do not have an ID card and in many cases, not even a birth certificate. They are unable to receive social assistance, such as child allowance, access regular medical care or graduate from school. When a child is born in Argentina, the birth must be recorded within the first 40 days at the local civil registry. Although the law was changed in 2009 to make registration free and available at the hospital, many people are unaware of the importance of registering a birth, or that the law has changed. For those giving birth outside of hospital, the steps to register the birth may be unknown of and complicated for diverse reasons.
MicroJustice Argentina works to facilitate access to justice for all. One of the most vulnerable groups they work with, are those without a legal identity. Their Identity Programme involves assisting people without ID cards to go through the process of applying for one. They report that “invisible” people are often hard to identify, but once they start talking to community members and gaining trust, the scale of the problem becomes clear. In collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and a network of other NGOs, they helped create a plan of action whereby each organisation would run Documentation Days in different provinces with support from local government to help register “invisible” people.
Over just two days in June 2017 the MicroJustice Argentina team travelled to Perico Jujuy for a Documentation Day in conjunction with the local ministry. They were able to serve more than 500 people in those two days – assisting them to apply for or renew their ID cards. This would allow adults and children alike to apply for education. One of the most moving cases they encountered was Marta, who at 68 years old had never had an ID card. She said, “I did not have ID and it was not worth anything. Now I'm going to go to primary school”.
MicroJustice Argentina is facilitating access to education, healthcare and justice through identifying the “invisible” and assisting them to overcome the obstacles that leave them powerless. Through legal empowerment workshops in communities on the Right to Identity, Family Law and Gender violence they ensure that communities are aware of their legal rights and know how to address a violation. They continue to work with and lobby the government to make the registration of undocumented individuals easier for everyone.