May 19, 2020

The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament is calling on Ghanaians to resist attempts by the Electoral Commission to amend the citizenship laws of Ghana through a backdoor by using an inferior instrument to amend an Act of Parliament and by extension the Constitution.

According to the Minority, this would disenfranchise Ghanaians thereby denying them their fundamental rights to vote as provided by the 1992 constitution of Ghana.

In a statement signed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu noted that the EC is determined to compile a new voters’ register to be used for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana contrary to good counsel from civil society groups.

“Their justification for the compilation of a new register is that the existing voters register is bloated and does not make room for facial recognition as a necessary concomitant to the bio data collected of existing voters on the register”.

The statement further noted that for a new register, the EC has to introduce into Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) No 126 (Public Elections Regulations of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020) intended to amend the sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 1 of the Public Elections (Regulations of Voters) (Regulations (C. I. 91). Sub-regulations (3) of Regulation 1 of C. I.  91 establishes the primary documents required for verification of a person who presents himself for registration as a voter.

“EC is trying 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 drivers its legitimacy from the constitution and particularly Article 42 of the constitution of Ghana, is excluded from the list of primary documents”.

The EC has not brought to Parliament a C. I for the purpose of capturing the facial details of prospective voters, as it has a far reaching consequences for the enjoyment of fundamental rights of citizens and especially privacy rights.

Again, the technological determinism can have a disastrously invasive negative effects on the lives of Ghanaian failure of the EC to avert its mind to the needed regulations to guide this exercise is disconcerting.

Mr. Iddrisu also noted that another omission by the EC is the lack of limited consideration or thought given to the consequences of the proposed amendment in C. I. 126 as it has an 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 parents or grandparent was born in Ghana, therefore establish whether a person is prima facie a Ghanaian one needs to look at the person’s birth certificate.

“Unfortunately, EC will have none of this and has unwittingly changed the presumption any person who appears at the registration centre without a passport or national identification card issued by the NIA 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 passport or a national identification card issued by the NIA would have to be vouched for by the children. And the child would impliedly confer Ghanaian citizenship on his parents contrary to the express provisions in the constitution of 19192 and the citizenship Act 2000 Act 591.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/