20.07.2020 Feature Article

Peter Suaka Writes…..Re: In Defense Of The Exclusion Of Birth Certificates As Proof Of Identity For Voter Registration In Ghana; By Daniel Korang Esq.

Peter Suaka Writes…..Re: In Defense Of The Exclusion Of Birth Certificates As Proof Of Identity For Voter Registration In Ghana; By Daniel Korang Esq.
20.07.2020 LISTEN

I must admit your article is one of the most nuanced commentary on this subject matter of the Exclusion of Birth Certificates as proof of Identity for the voter Registration in Ghana as contained in the Supreme Court ruling in the consolidated suit filed by the NDC and Mark Takyi-Banson (as plaintiffs) against the AG and EC of Ghana.

I however take exception to your introduction and conclusion which seeks to entirely support and endorse the ruling of the Supreme Court on this matter. In fact your detailed explanation of the Article 42 of the Constitution rather bastardized the ruling of the Supreme Court than endorsed it. So I am baffled you are so definite in your introduction and conclusion in support of the ruling.
Out of the three criteria provided in Article 42 for a person to satisfy before deemed eligible to register and vote in Ghana, two of them ie; Must be a citizen of Ghana; Must be eighteen years of age or above are satisfied by the characteristics of the Birth Certificate. You will find the age of a person on his birth certificate and you can establish the citizenship of a person on his birth certificate. So what exactly is the basis for Supreme Court's unanimous and categorical dismissal of the second plaintiffs' issue for which you are defending?
Per the Citizenship Act, 2000 (Act 591) as you have drawn our attention to, Citizenship by Birth is one of the recognized categories of citizenship. In your own analysis of the citizenship Act, a person born in Ghana automatically acquires Ghanaian citizenship through an issuance of a birth certificate as evidence/proof of his citizenship by birth, so at which point does this same birth certificate entirely become worse proof of a person's citizenship identity than the NHI card when it comes to identification of the holder/bearer of that birth certificate?

Additionally, you deflated to the large extend the reasoning of the Supreme Court and contradicted your own conclusion when you state in the paragraph seven of your article under the heading “Citizens by Birth” that “the primary purpose of a birth certificate is that it serves as evidence of citizenship and beyond this, the birth certificate has no relevance”.

One of the arguments of the second plaintiff (Mark Takyi-Banson) is that, the exclusion of Birth Certificate as a breeder document for identification per the amended regulation 1(3) of CI 126 is in contravention with Article 42 of the Constitution which mentions citizenship as one of the basic eligibility criteria to be registered as a voter in Ghana. If Birth Certificate truly qualifies as evidence of citizenship as you claim in paragraph seven of your article, on which basis should the Supreme Court dismiss the argument of the second plaintiff??

Further, on the back of how comprehensive and detailed your commentary on this ruling is, it is surprising you completely give a blind to the character and form of the other forms of identifications as enumerated in the sub-regulation (3) “a,” “b” and “c” of the regulation (1) of CI 126. Particularly the mention of Passport and NIA card both of which have the Birth Certificate as their sourced document for procuring them.
My point is that, the Birth Certificate may not pass the 100% credibility test within the context of the institutional, systemic and structural deficiencies surrounding its acquisition process by individuals. This however should not in my opinion constitute enough basis for complete dismissal of same by the Supreme Court with the harsh description given to it in the statement by Professor N. A. Kotey JSC describing it as worse than the NHI Card if it must be used as evidence of identification by persons who apply to be registered as voters.

Listening to the Deputy Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame prior to the trial of this matter and during the trial itself and reading through the judgment of the Supreme Court, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the judgment of the Supreme Court in this particular matter is tainted towards satisfying political convenience than it is of commonsensical and justifiable legal reasoning. I have been therefore compelled to, in writing this rejoinder respectfully but expressly espouse my complete disagreement with the position of my venerable Constitutional Law Lecturer Daniel Korang Esq. as stated in his article published on Modern Ghana Website with the title

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