'The biggest miscarriage of justice' - NDC MP challenges new CJ over birth certificate as proof of citizenship

Governs Kwame Agbodza Kwame Governs Agbodza, Minority Chief Whip of Parliament

Thu, 8 Jun 2023 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Kwame Governs Agbodza, the Minority Chief Whip of Parliament, has voiced his disagreement with Chief Justice Nominee Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo and the Supreme Court of Ghana over their recent ruling that birth certificates are not considered proof of citizenship in the country.

The Member of Parliament for Adaklu argued that both the Supreme Court's decision and the nominee's stance are unconstitutional, referring to them as the "biggest miscarriage of justice in our lifetime."

Speaking on the floor of Parliament on June 7, 2023, he contended that the current legal stance in Ghana, which disregards birth certificates as evidence of citizenship, is flawed and should be amended. He expressed his concern over the implications of this ruling, asserting that it goes against the constitutional rights of Ghanaian citizens.

During his speech in Parliament, Agbodza highlighted the example provided by the Chief Justice Nominee regarding foreign mothers giving birth in Ghana.

He emphasized that if a foreign mother, such as an American, gives birth at a Ghanaian hospital, the birth certificate issued by the Registrar of Births and Deaths would not automatically indicate Ghanaian citizenship.

He further argued that the nominee misunderstood the process, as the mother's citizenship is required to be declared on the birth certificate application form.

"Mr. Speaker, it might be that it is only in Ghana that they have a law that will say that when you have a birth certificate, that birth certificate is not proof of citizenship.

"I heard at that vetting that the chief justice nominee suggested that if a foreign mother or a mother who is an American gives birth in Ghana, that child may not automatically be Ghanaian.

"She is right indeed, Mr. Speaker. If you take the forms that you fill out to acquire a birth certificate, on that form, the mother will have to prove her own citizenship. If the mother says she is an American and gives birth at Ridge Hospital, the registrar at Births and Deaths will never issue a birth certificate with Ghanaian citizenship written on it."

He added, "So, the chief justice nominee got it wrong when she suggested that as if Births and Deaths Registry automatically gives you a birth certificate with the inscription 'Ghanaian' as soon as you get the certificate.

"Indeed, there are people who have got birth certificates secured in Ghana, but the citizenship on that certificate is not Ghanaian."

He further questioned the Chief Justice Nominee's citizenship status, saying, "Indeed, the nominee also provided her own birth certificate, and that birth certificate was issued in the year 2000. I wonder what she used to acquire a birth certificate since she was born in the 1960s. I wonder what document she used to prove to Births and Deaths to acquire a birth certificate that... Mr. Speaker, I consider that singular decision by the Supreme Court as the biggest miscarriage of justice in our lifetime, is the biggest miscarriage and this must not be allowed to stay," he said.

It may be recalled that Chief Justice nominee Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo has explained why the birth certificate alone cannot be used to prove that one is Ghanaian.

According to her, 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.

Speaking during her vetting at Parliament on Friday, May 26, 2023, Justice Torkornoo 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 in knowing 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.

The Chief Justice nominee made these remarks while answering a question on the Supreme Court ruling in 2020 that the birth certificate cannot be used as proof of nationality by the Member of Parliament for Adaklu, Kwame Governs Agbodza.

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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