Countless experts, critics and the general public have taken the Ghanaian Supreme Court to the cleaners for declaring that birth certificates in Ghana “provide no evidence of citizenship”.
For instance, Kofi Bentil, an Executive Director of policy think-tank IMANI described the judgment as forcing Ghanaians to fight for their citizenship within a regime of “Derived Citizenship” that the pronouncement by the Supreme Court judges would cause.
Kofi Bentil wrote on his social media wall: “Birthright Citizenship is NATURAL law literally! Derived Citizenship is controversial and absurd because it forces a person to fight for their citizenship. At best it works stress and injustice, at worst it has caused many wars!!”
Another expert, a Ghanaian-born Law Professor based in the USA, Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare agrees with Kofi Bentil. “I strongly disagree with the Court that birth certificates do not provide evidence of citizenship. They do! That is why parents make oath at the birth registry and state their nationality or citizenship (depending on when the person is born). From the parents’ nationality, one can then infer the child’s citizenship. In our case, one parent being a Ghanaian makes the child also a Ghanaian,” Professor Asare posted on Facebook.
He quickly noted that the aspect of the judgment that degraded birth certificate was a mere legal opinion “Fortunately, the birth certificate/citizenship statement was mere obiter that did not form part of the Court’s holding, which focused on identification.”
On July 15, 2020, the Supreme Court released its full judgment in the suit against the Electoral Commission brought to the court by a private citizen Mark Takyi Banson and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) who challenged the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) for excluding birth certificates and existing voter identification cards as valid confirmation of voters’ identity as Ghanaians.
A complete judgment of the Supreme Court seen by Whatsup News unanimously held that birth certificate is a useless document to verify the citizenship of Ghanaians.
In a rather shocking explanation that has gotten a cross-section of the Ghanaian public thoroughly worked up, the court claims a birth certificate “provides no evidence of citizenship”.
On Page 27 of the judgment of the apex court, it stated: “A 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. Quite obviously, it provides no evidence of citizenship. It, therefore, does not satisfy the requirements of article 42 of the Constitution.
In fact, Ghana’s zenith court went ahead to say that a birth certificate as a form of identification is worse than the National Health Insurance (NHI) card.
“In fact, as a form of identification, it is worse than NHI card which was held to be unconstitutional as evidence of identification of a person who applies for registration as a voter in Abu Ramadan (No1) supra and Abu Ramadan (No2) supra,” stated the judgment which was compiled by Justice Ashie Kotey for the panel of judges that sat on the June 25 court proceedings between the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and private citizen Mark Takyi Banson against the Electoral Commission (EC).
The applicants-NDC and Mr Banson had dragged the EC to the apex court for daring to exclude birth certificates and existing voters ID cards from the list of breeder documents needed before one can register as a voter in the new voters’ register.