Some of us can’t let this citizenship thing rest – Bright Simons on birth certificate brouhaha

Bright Simons IMANI Ghana Bright Simons, Vice President IMANI Africa

Sun, 28 May 2023 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

The Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Africa, has stated that the reason the discourse on national identity cannot be toyed with is because of happenings in other African countries.

According to him, similar issues have sparked conflict in other African countries.

He cited Cote d’Ivoire’s national identification debate as a premise for his argument.

“The reason why some of us can't let this citizenship thing rest is because we are guided by how dangerous politicians in other African countries have stoked civil conflict by exploiting confusions over national identity. Ghana's judiciary should be very mindful,” he wrote on Twitter on May 28, 2023.

The issue of citizenship has become one of keen interest after the introduction of the Ghana Card.

The government announced its intention of making the Ghana Card the only documentation that is accepted in the country for voter registration.

It was a position that was vehemently contested by many, and spearheaded by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the country’s largest opposition party.

And with that, the NDC sought clarification and interpretation from the Supreme Court in 2020, with the hopes that the decision by the Electoral Commission of Ghana would be quashed and that other documents like the birth certificate can be used.

However, in a unanimous decision, the apex court contended that holding a birth certificate has no bearing on the citizenship of the holder.

The court explained that the document does not establish “the identity of the bearer.”

However, during the vetting of the Chief Justice nominee, Gertrude Torkornoo, on May 26, 2023, she had to answer a question on the Supreme Court ruling in 2020 that the birth certificate cannot be used as proof of nationality.

In her response, the Chief Justice nominee said that the birth certificate is only used to show the place of birth of a person born in Ghana and not the citizenship of the person.

She further explained that in Ghana, citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by lineage.

“Citizenship is a matter of law; nationality is a matter of law. In certain jurisdictions being born in that place makes you a citizen of that country. In our country being born in Ghana does not make you a citizen of Ghana.

“It is your relationship with your mother, it is your mother’s identity, it is your father’s identity. It is your lineage that determines your citizenship.

“So, that form (the Birth Certificate) is actually an international requirement, we must know where everybody is born. That form assists to know your antecedent but beyond that, your nationality is derived from the information on that form. It is not the evidence of your nationality, it is the beginning of appreciating how your nationality must be determined,” she said.

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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