On Friday the 15th of September 2023, the Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, Home Affairs, and Police through Home Affairs Agency under National Identity and Civil Registry department, (NICR) issued 50 birth certificates and 200 national identity documents to Semonkong community in commemoration of World Identity (ID) Day at Semonkong. This was a memorable moment for those document recipients.

Lesotho is part of the countries which pledged to ensure an accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.9 by 2030, that stipulates “provide legal identity for all including free birth registration”. This day is celebrated annually on the 16th of September. The of Home Affairs aspires to meet the target to leave no one behind in compliance with the United Nations (UN) SDG target 16.9. It is also about to ensure service decentralization hence an official launch of birth and death registrations as well as ID enrolments at Semonkong which is an outskirt of Maseru town. Now the residents no longer must travel to Maseru to obtain such vital documents.

In the year 2010, the African authorities responsible for national statistics had a conference in Ethiopia. Each country was therefore advised to introspect regarding the ID services and see to it that every child has access to free birth registration.

Lesotho has launched the national ID system in 2013. Now the registrations are also done at the councils and hospitals. This has improved the birth registrations by 60%.

“We wish to thank our development partners, especially the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for their continued support in our effort to strengthen the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems in Lesotho and ensure the achievement of the UN legal identity agenda”, Honourable Lebona Lephema cited. He also called upon all the stakeholders and partners to further support the vital areas of stakeholder collaboration, digital transformation, and the development of robust legal to strengthen the CRVS infrastructure by accurately recording births, marriages, and deaths. It establishes legal identity and relationships, preventing the traffickers from exploiting the vulnerable. This system helps prevent forced and child marriages and provides authorities with reliable data to identify and intervene in potential trafficking cases. It enhances early detection, investigation, and prosecution. Ultimately leading to victims being rescued and protected from trafficking. “It is, therefore, my pledge as the government to recognize and improve universal courage inclusive of the civil registration, identity management and issuance of ID cards,” leave no one behind”, Minister concluded.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 56% of the population is without ID which means they are invisible, they do not have basic rights, no services and they are also exploited to some extent. This was said by the UNICEF representative Mr. Deepak Bhaskaran at Semonkong. ” On this important day, we commend the government of Lesotho for great strives in providing the citizens with a trusted, unique, and verified global ID from birth to death”. In Lesotho, there have been 1.45 million citizens with national ID’s since the launch of the National ID system.

However, the children in remote areas are not timely registered. A child separated from their parent and without registration is most vulnerable to being trafficked and facing exploitation. He showed that having a formal identity is a fundamental human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of every individual to legal identity including the right to a name. This right is essential for upholding other rights such as education, health care, social services, and even protection from exploitation and child trafficking. The UN believes that these rights are essential in achieving the target SDG 16.9.

The councilor of Semonkong Mr. Lekula Ntai expressed his gratitude to the Ministry by launching the National Identity and Civil Registry office in their area where they can register both births and death and enroll identity cards.

The event was graced with different traditional dances and poetries by the pupils from St. Leonard Primary, and the students from Amohelang and Semonkong high schools.