Globe, Latin America

Peru: The DNI, the document that people need to exist

10% of minors in Peru do not own a national identification card. In addition, many people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities are deprived of having one.

The Prisma

When born, a child becomes part of a family, but the government is oblivious to their birth. If they are not registered, their life continues outside a political system that doesn’t recognise them. Consequently, they remain exposed to work exploitation, sexual violence or kidnapping. 

In other words, they are invisible to society and deprived of a large number of social, civil and legal rights, for example, the right to go to school, obtaining health insurance (SIS) or, among others, the right to an identity.

The majority of the population that do not have a national identification card (DNI) at their disposal live in rural or indigenous communities which worsens their life of social exclusion.

Similarly, more than two million people who now have an out-of-date DNI have, at the request of the state, “a civil death”.

The social organisation, Latin American Foundation of the Future (LAFF) has confirmed this reality through their projects carried out in Cusco. For them, the lack of documentation is “one of the most frequent social questions that affects Peru”.

In their opinion, this lack is down to “mainly economical reasons” seeing as the majority of the population that live in extreme poverty “cannot pay the 24 soles (less than 6 pounds) for their registration”.

The problem also lies with the language and education. According to the National Census in 2007, 16% (more than four million inhabitants) learn to speak in a native language – mainly quechua and aymara – and the communities that do not live in urban areas have no knowledge of Spanish.

Bearing that in mind, one should highlight the high illiteracy rate in rural areas. According to the National Programme of Mobilization for Illiteracy (Pronama), the figure for illiteracy stands at 7.1% of which 75% are women (975,000).

These factors have been an obstacle for the organisation to process the DNI in rural and indigenous communities but also “the lack of education in the importance of the document from the authorities”.

According to the Multiannual Macroeconomic Plan 2011-2013, in 2009, 95.5% of the over-18 population have a DNI. This tells us that – to this date – nearly 830,000 Peruvians are “invisible”.

With the objective of closing the gap between those who exist with a DNI and those that don’t, the National Register of Identification and Civil State (RENIEC) launched a campaign in 2003 to award an identification card to the 407,293 children that had a birth certificate.

As of today, according to figures from RENIEC, 10% of children and adolescents are still missing this document. Similarly, 200,000 people over 18 years old are without it.

For LAFF, it is also significant that there are 20,000 undocumented individuals over 65 years old that live in extreme poverty and “cannot access their pension scheme”.

People with disabilities

With regards to this category, the organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that people with disabilities have problems obtaining the identity document. “Some people with disabilities, especially those who live in rural areas don’t even have identification documents”.

Similarly, they have revealed that those who live in institutions are “identified as “N.N.” (no name) and hospital staff have the difficult task of assigning them a name”. The organisation recalls that Peru forms part of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CDPD) and regrets that there still exist laws and policies that prevent people with disabilities from having fundamental rights.

In fact, people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities who were interviewed by the HRW in November 2011 commented that “they couldn’t cash cheques or make basic decisions such as sharing assets among their children due to their identification document showing that they hadn’t voted or that they weren’t allowed to do it”.

They also highlighted that the phrase “mental disability” which appears in the identity document makes them become “an object of mockery for their friends and people of the community”.

It is because of this that both organisations are not stopping in their cooperative work to shine a light on those people who live in rural areas away from the beneficiaries who report to have a document with their personal details. “We hope that the RENIEC complies with the aim of completely eliminating the lack of documentation in 2015”, the LAFF announced.

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(Translated by Suzanne Elman)

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