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16.05.2020 Politics

Haruna Iddrisu Ask Ghanaians To Join Fight Against EC Attempt To Change Citizenship Laws

By Eric Nana Yaw Kwafo
Minority Leader Haruna IddrisuMinority Leader Haruna Iddrisu
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Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu is urging Ghanaians to resist all attempts by the Electoral Commission (EC) to change the citizenship laws of the country in the planned compilation of a new voters register.

According to him, the EC has introduced into Parliament a constitutional instrument that will end up excluding the national ID card and the Birth Certificate from the accepted documents for the registration exercise.

“To prepare for the new register, the Electoral Commission has introduced into Parliament Constitutional Instrument No. 126 (Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020) intended to amend Sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 1 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations (C.I. 91).

“Sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 1 of C.I. 91 establishes the primary documents required for verification of a person who presents herself or himself for registration as a voter”, a statement from Haruna Iddrisu has disclosed.

It continued, “The Electoral Commission, by the proposed amendment, is seeking to limit primary documents to only the Ghanaian passport and a national identification card issued by the National Identification Authority.“A voter identification card, which derives its legitimacy from the constitution and particularly Article 42 of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992, is excluded from the list of primary documents”.

With the NDC sticking to its stance of opposing the compilation of a new voter’s register, Haruna Iddrisu says Ghanaians must resist attempts by the EC to deny the greater majority their fundamental right to vote as provided by the Constitution.

“I am therefore calling on Ghanaians to resist this blatant attempt by the Commission to amend or change the citizenship laws of Ghana through the backdoor by using an inferior Instrument to amend an Act of Parliament or by extension the Constitution intended to disenfranchise Ghanaians thereby denying them their fundamental right to vote as provided by the Constitution”.

Read the full statement from Haruna Iddrisu below:


CONSTITUTIONAL INSTRUMENT ON THE COMPILATION OF A NEW VOTERS REGISTER


We appear to be in interesting times! The Electoral Commission is saying that it is determined to compile a new voters registration to be used for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana contrary to good counsel from Civil Society and well-meaning Ghanaians.

Their justification for the compilation of a new register is that the existing voter’s register is bloated and does not make room for facial recognition as a necessary concomitant to the biodata collected of existing voters on the register.

To prepare for the new register, the Electoral Commission has introduced into Parliament Constitutional Instrument No. 126 (Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020) intended to amend Sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 1 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations (C.I. 91). Sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 1 of C.I. 91 establishes the primary documents required for verification of a person who presents herself or himself for registration as a voter.

The Electoral Commission, by the proposed amendment is seeking to limit primary documents to only the Ghanaian passport and a national identification card issued by the National Identification Authority.

A voter identification card, which derives its legitimacy from the constitution and particularly Article 42 of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992, is excluded from the list of primary documents.

But the most shocking revelation is that the Electoral Commission has not brought to Parliament a Constitutional Instrument for the purpose of capturing the facial details of prospective voters.

Facial recognition has far-reaching consequences for the enjoyment of fundamental rights of citizens and especially privacy rights. Technological determinism can have disastrously invasive negative effects on the lives of the citizens of this country. The failure of the Electoral Commission to avert its mind to the need for Regulations to guide this exercise is disconcerting!

Another critical omission by the Commission is the lack of or limited consideration or thought given to the consequences of the proposed amendment in C.I. 126. It will have the effect of unsettling the Citizenship laws of Ghana.

The Citizenship Act,2000 (Act 591) presumes a person born on or before 6th March 1957 to be a Ghanaian provided either parent or grandparent was born in Ghana. Therefore to establish whether a person is prima facie a Ghanaian, one needs to look at the person's birth certificate.

Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission will have none of this! The Commission has unwittingly changed the presumption, and any person who appears at the registration centre without a passport or a national identification card issued by the National Identification Authority is presumed not to be a Ghanaian unless two people can vouch for that person.

In effect, a child who was born to parents and has a passport but whose parents have no passports or a national identification card issued by the National Identification Authority will have to be vouched for by the child. The child will impliedly confer Ghanaian citizenship on his parents contrary to the express provisions in the Constitution, 1992 and the Citizenship Act, 2000, Act 591.

I am therefore calling on Ghanaians to resist this blatant attempt by the Commission to amend or change the citizenship laws of Ghana through the backdoor by using an inferior Instrument to amend an Act of Parliament or by extension the Constitution intended to disenfranchise Ghanaians thereby denying them their fundamental right to vote as provided by the Constitution.

Eric Nana Yaw Kwafo
Eric Nana Yaw Kwafo

Journalist

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