Court rules for inclusion of father's name on birth records of children born out of wedlock

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Mumbi Ngugi declared Section 12 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act unconstitutional.
  • She said every child has a right to have the name of his or her father on the birth certificate.
  • She ruled that indeed such children face unnecessary discrimination based on their parents’ marital status.

Children born out of wedlock can now have the names of their fathers included in their birth records.

In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Mumbi Ngugi declared Section 12 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act unconstitutional.

She said every child has a right to have the name of his or her father on the birth certificate.

The consent of the father is not required as has been the case.

Even though the judge agreed that the Attorney-General had defended the law saying that it was aimed at protecting men from “unscrupulous women”, she said the law needs to be changed to protect the rights of every child regardless of the marital status of their parents.

She said the burden of children born out of wedlock has for a long time been placed on women.

Justice Ngugi ordered the Registrar of Births and Deaths to ensure that the entry of names is done in the next 45 days.

She ruled that indeed such children face unnecessary discrimination based on their parents’ marital status.

The verdict was made in a case filed by a single mother in 2014 challenging the Births and Deaths Registration Act.

The woman said the law prohibited a mother from including the biological father’s name on a birth certificate without the man’s consent.

The woman, through her lawyer, Mr John Chigiti, sued the AG and the Registrar of Births and Deaths, in the case in which the Law Society of Kenya appeared as a friend of the court.

Consequently, the judgment delivered on Thursday means that “deadbeat fathers” — those who dodge their parental responsibilities — will no longer have an excuse to run away from supporting their children.

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