Human Rights Advocacy Centre releases report into Biometric Prisoner Registrations
7/24/2012 5:29:55 PM -
19 July 2012 - Today HRAC releases their report into the biometric registration of prisoners which took place on the 30th of May 2012. The biometric registration of the prisoners will allow them to vote in the upcoming elections in December, which is a right guaranteed them in the 1992 Ghanaian Constitution.
This was the first time that prisoners had been biometrically registered, and as such, the process had some teething problems. HRAC closely followed the process, and conducted interviews with a prison official and an election observer in order to ensure the Ghana Prisons Service and Electoral Commission maintain accountability towards the prison population of Ghana, and the Ghanaian people.
For the most part, the process appears to have been carried out to the best ability of the Ghana Prisons Service and Ghana Electoral Commission. However, many of the prisoners failed to register. In fact, in the final count, less than 1000 prisoners were actually registered to vote out of a prison population of about 13,000. As such, the report outlines some recommendations that would improve the process in the future.
The low registration was due to a number of factors, including inadequate identification and multiple identities. However, many of the prisoners chose not to register, thus forgoing their democratic right to vote. This was believed to be due to a lack of confidence in the process, and lack of knowledge of the importance of the right to vote. As a result, at the forefront of HRAC's recommendations is improved education and sensitisation of the prisoners, both about the biometric registration process, and about Ghana's democratic processes.
Increased openness to media scrutiny would have also improved the process, ensuring accountability and transparency, which must be key features of Ghana's strengthening democracy. This was a vital recommendation indicated in the report.
HRAC will continue to monitor significant human rights developments and processes in Ghana, to ensure that those rights outlined in the 1992 Constitution are upheld, and Ghana maintains its commitment to international declarations and conventions to which we are a part.
BY Taniele Gofers, Communications Officer