Response received to Gisha freedom of information application regarding registration of Palestinian children’s addresses
On November 16, 2014, Gisha sent the Freedom of Information Officer at the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) a request regarding information on COGAT policies with respect to the registration of addresses in Palestinian children’s birth certificates (Hebrew).
The application was made after Gisha encountered cases evincing lack of uniformity in the registration of Palestinian children’s addresses. For example, children who have one parent registered with a West Bank address and another with a Gaza Strip address are sometimes registered in the West Bank and other times in Gaza, regardless of where they were actually born.
In our application, we asked whether there was a protocol for registering Palestinian children’s addresses, and whether there was a protocol for making corrections if necessary, and how the decision where to register a child is made in each particular case in the event that no such protocols exist.
On February 8, 2015, we received two essentially identical responses, one from the COGAT public liaison officer (Hebrew) and the other from the COGAT spokesperson (Hebrew). The responses stated that the registration of Palestinian children’s addresses was under the purview of the Palestinian Authority and that the Israeli side was simply an approval instance. Therefore, children are registered according to the application submitted by the Palestinian Authority, and so long as the children are under the age of 16, they may be registered under either parent’s address.
The responses also stated that the possibility of officially publishing a protocol on this issue would be considered as part of the work currently underway for updating COGAT procedures.
Despite the responses, recent cases of clients who tried to change their children’s registered addresses indicate that the Israeli side refuses to allow the change, even in cases that meet the criteria specified in the responses to the Freedom of Information application.