A birth cert doesn’t make you a Ghanaian – Supreme Court rules

Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah

The Supreme Court has dismissed the use of a birth certificate as proof of Ghanaian citizenship.

This was the unanimous position of the seven justices after they mulled over a suit brought by a private citizen, Mark Takyi Banson.

The plaintiff had wanted the Supreme Court to compel the Electoral Commission to accept a birth certificate as a sufficient identification for registering to obtain a new voter ID card ahead of the 2020 general elections.

But after dismissing this relief on June 25, the Supreme Court has now released its full judgement.

It explained that the birth certificate “is not a form of identification. It does not establish the identity of the bearer. Nor does it link the holder with the information on the certificate.”

Biometric birth certificate in Ghana ▷ YEN.COM.GH
Photo: Sample of a birth certificate

But the judgement gets even more damning as the judges branded it as even “worse than the [National Health Insurance] NHI card.”

The Supreme Court said the NHI card only identified the person by face and name but “makes no disclosure about the holder’s identification….and thus fails to meet the citizenship restriction test.”

The use of the NHI cards as a ID for registering for a voter’s ID card was rejected by the Supreme Court back in 2016.

The Supreme Court in the case of Abu Ramadan and Another v. the Electoral Commission in 2016, held that it was wrong for persons to use the National Health Insurance cards to get onto the electoral roll.

It was the EC that had allowed the use of the NHI cards as proof of citizenship in 2012.

NHIA to pilot use of Ghana Card for health insurance in January ...
Photo: NHIS card

But four years later, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to delete such persons. The Charlotte Osei-led Electoral Commission did indicate that it had complied, deleting as many as 56,00 voters.

With the court describing the birth certificate as worse than the NHI in proving citizenship, it raises serious questions about the work of the Birth and Death Registry.

While the Supreme Court rejects the birth certificate as proof of citizenship, the document is used by the Passport Office for granting a passport.

The Electoral Commission accepts the passport as proof of citizenship but not the birth certificate which is used to produce a passport.

But the confusion among the two state institutions gets worse.

The National Identification Authority issues the Ghana card which is the latest project by the government to finally settle the problems of determining citizenship.

The NIA accepts a birth certificate as proof of citizen.

The EC accepts the Ghana card as proof of citizenship but not the document which the NIA used to grant the Ghana card.

There are documented irregularities and illegalities in acquiring a birth certificate in Ghana.

The documentary ‘Paper Citizens’ produced by JoyNews detailed how officials of the Births and Deaths Registry were illegally issuing birth certificates to foreigners to help them acquire Ghanaian passports.

Some Ivorians, Cameroonians and Nigerians were the main beneficiaries of the criminal dealings. They pay as little as GH¢150, to acquire the certified documents, the documentary found.

These problems at the Birth and Death Registry is believed to be part of the reasons why the Electoral Commission has never used the birth certificate as proof of citizenship in issuing a voter ID card.

The constitutional instruments from C.I. 12, C.I. 75, C.I. 91, C.I 95 and the recent C.I 126 laid by the EC for the conduct of elections has never used the birth certificate as proof of eligibility.

The Supreme Court in its judgment appears to have acknowledged this situation.

It said “it is little wonder that a birth certificate has never been included as one of the documents to be used as evidence of identification by a person who applies to be a registered voter.”

The judgement described the request to include the birth certificate as proof of eligibility “a retrograde step.”

Ghana has a population of 30.2 million with 16.6m qualified to vote. But the citizenship question continues to be a controversial subject despite the Supreme Court judgment.

Read full judgement

12 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    ” when the elders we esteem so highly can sell their conscience for devil’s money, then let pig it shame and, man it dung”

    1. Anonymous says

      Not sure your insult will hurt the Justices. Says a lot about your own level of education and appreciation of simple things. Grow up youngman and don’t let politics eat you up.

      1. Anonymous says

        You see ur life?

  2. Anonymous says

    So can we choose our own national identity Abi? I want to be a Portuguese.

  3. Anonymous says

    I pray the people Burn the court down one day.

    1. Anonymous says

      Go lead that

  4. Anonymous says

    Eiiiiiiiiio, eiiiiiiiioooo Ghana.
    Supreme court judges eii.
    Hmmm
    I’m afraid of contempt, nanka hmm

  5. Anonymous says

    Not sure your insult will hurt the Justices. Says a lot about your own level of education and appreciation of simple things. Grow up youngman and don’t let politics eat you up.

  6. Joseph says

    Very illogical decision.

  7. Anonymous says

    The father’s have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are and continues to be set on edge.
    How l wish that some fathers can pay for their own sins and not make innocent children suffer.

  8. Anonymous says

    God have mercy on this country (Ghana). We are dead.they should stop birth certificate for passport.

  9. Anonymous says

    Anybody born in the UK is issued with a birth certificate by the British government. Does it mean that everyone born in the UK is automatically a British citizen – Of course not!

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