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Letter of the Day: Why play dead over unregistered deaths?

Published:Tuesday | August 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Reference is made to the lead story in which the Registrar General's Department (RGD) revealed that it was having a serious problem in accurately registering all deaths occurring in Jamaica.

Consequently, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), which by law relies on data from the RGD to help clean up the voters' list, has been seriously affected.

The EOJ has indicated that, in the absence of a national identification system, the data from the RGD are not, per se, reliable, as there is no unique identifier of a dead person to easily cross-match with names on the voters' list.

According to the RGD and EOJ, not every person who has died is registered with the RGD, particularly poorer Jamaicans who die violently or are killed in automobile accidents.

Based on information gleaned from the RGD's website, the law mandates that deaths in Jamaica from natural causes are to be registered within five days. However, the reporting of sudden and violent deaths is usually dependent on various government processes, such as autopsies and coroner's proceedings, being carried out.

It would appear to me that violent or sudden deaths, given the government processes involved, would be easy to register, as the relevant information could be passed on to the RGD from the relevant agencies dealing with such deaths. The registration of such deaths should not have to be left to the families of the deceased persons.




When a person dies, regardless of the cause or place of death, the body is customarily turned over to a funeral home for preparation for burial or cremation. Why not use the funeral homes to assist the process, mandating that before a burial order can be issued or a funeral home facilitates a burial, the death must be appropriately registered?

The family of the deceased should be required to present a copy of the deceased's birth certificate to the government agency or funeral home to assist in the preparation of the burial order and registration of death.

Since our birth certificates should already have our birth registration numbers, the presentation of birth certificates to help in the registration of deaths should help the EOJ in obtaining more reliable information from the RGD as to the actual persons who have died.

Why sit and play dead while waiting for a national identification system, not yet a reality, when more immediate steps can be taken to overcome the challenges being faced by the RGD and EOJ?