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General News of Saturday, 25 July 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

NDC applies for review of Supreme Court's old voter IDs, birth certs ruling


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The Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has applied for a review of the Supreme Court judgement on the exclusion of birth certificates and existing voter IDs from the voter registration.

In a press release issued on Friday, July 24, 2020, NDC Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, said in line with the party’s disagreement with the judgement delivered in June, its lawyers have appealed to the apex court to take a second look.

“As a political party, when the judgement was delivered, we did not hide our disappointment, but we were powerless to do anything about it at the time because the reasons for the judgement were not given until 15 July 2020, 20 days after the judgement was announced.

“After that, our lawyers went to work; and true to our expectation, they have come back with a number of very cogent reasons why they think the judgement of the Supreme Court was wrong.

“We have therefore placed our concerns before the Supreme Court for it to take a second look at its own judgement, and if possible, change its position on matters that we think are fundamental to citizenship and the right to vote in this country.

The Supreme Court last month dismissed two suits that were seeking the use of the existing voter identification card and birth certificates as the source documents for the voter registration exercise.

The ruling has been criticized by some groups, law academics and individuals.



Read the NDC press release below.

PRESS RELEASE
Friday, 24th July, 2020

NDC APPLIES FOR REVIEW OF SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT ON EXCLUSION OF BIRTH CERTIFICATES AND EXISTING VOTER ID CARDS FROM VOTER REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS.

This afternoon, the National Democratic Congress caused to be filed an application for the review of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case involving the current voter registration exercise, which judgment was delivered on 25th June 2020.

As a political party, when the judgment was delivered, we did not hide our disappointment, but we were powerless to do anything about it at the time because the reasons for the judgment were not given until 15th July 2020, 20 days after the judgment was announced.
 
After that, our lawyers went to work; and true to our expectation, they have come back with a number of very cogent reasons why they think the judgment of the Supreme Court was wrong.

We have therefore placed our concerns before the Supreme Court for it to take a second look at its own judgment, and if possible, change its position on matters that we think are fundamental to citizenship and the right to vote in this country.
 
Our lawyers have raised many serious issues with the judgment of the Supreme Court. We respectfully hold the view, that the Supreme Court in several cases, arrived at its conclusions without due and proper regard for existing laws, and in many cases, without the requisite supporting evidence.

Two issues however stand out among our complaints.
 
1. We take a critical view of the holding of the Supreme Court that our birth certificates are worthless as proof of our identity, and thereby, our nationality. As our lawyers have stated in their arguments in the review application; “.......Registering births and deaths has been a basic element in official national record keeping for decades. The certificates resulting from these registers are well known and, with respect to the birth certificate in particular, its relevance for public purposes such as obtaining a passport is very well established. Indeed, it is not only in Ghana that this is the case. Throughout the world, the keeping of official records of birth and the use of the resulting birth certificate for public purposes is well established.”

A Ghanaian birth certificate shows one’s date and place of birth, age, parentage, and nationality; precisely the kind of information that would be required for any form of voter registration.

Our lawyers have also pointed out that “Because the connecting factors relevant to determination of nationality are primarily place of birth and parentage, birth certificates are definitely evidence of great importance for citizenship determination.”
 
This is particularly so, as the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana has enacted a law, National Identity Register (Amendment) Act, 2017, Act 950, which affirms the efficacy of a birth certificate as an identification document that proves citizenship. We therefore find it surprising and worrying, that the Supreme Court would hold that “A birth certificate is not a form of identification”.  
 
2. The Supreme Court’s decision that holders of existing voter ID cards cannot use same as a source of identification, is also a matter of great concern to us as a political party. It is our view, that holders of existing voter ID cards have acquired rights based on the fact that the Electoral Commission have gone through a process of identifying them, ascertaining their ages and nationality and has adjudged them to be eligible to vote.

This data appears on the face of each voter ID card and in our view, should constitute prima facie identification of its holder for the purpose of any fresh voters’ registration exercise. What surprises us is that, it is the same Electoral Commission which issued these cards at high expense to the state, that is now alleging strenuously, with hardly any proof, that its own process of issuing those cards was so poisoned that those cards should not be accepted as proof of identity. This we maintain is arbitrary, whimsical and capricious.

These exceptional circumstances, are what have necessitated the present application for the review of the judgment of the Supreme Court on this matter.

As a key stakeholder in Ghana’s electoral process and our constitutional democracy as a whole, we feel deeply concerned about holding democratic institutions accountable. And accountability, in our considered opinion, includes not allowing democratic institutions to indulge in self-deprecation as it is the case now with the Electoral Commission.

Again, it is our conviction, that as a Political party which birthed this fourth republican democracy, we owe it a duty to God and country, to use every available legal opportunity, to defend and protect citizenship rights provided under same. Hence, our determination to pursue this all-important matter to its logical conclusion. May posterity be our judge.

Signed.
Comrade Sammy Gyamfi
National Communication Officer

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