Birth certificate not enough proof of citizenship, Says Supreme Court

Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah

The Supreme Court has stated that when it comes to documents relevant for identification of one’s citizenship, the Birth Certificate does not qualify enough to be used as a proof.

Juxtaposing Birth Certificate with the National Health Insurance Card, which the apex court had already rejected in previous hearings, the court stated the latter is even a better document than in such regard.

Writing its judgement in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) v Attorney General (AG) and Electoral Commission (EC), a case which the apex court, recently, in a unanimous decision ruled against the opposition party, Justice Ashie Kotey stated that Birth Certificate does not establish the identity of the bearer. He added that it does not link the holder with the information on it, and so cannot be taken as a proof of identification for citizenship.

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“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, as a form of identification, it is worse than the 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 (No 1) and Abu Ramadan (No 2).

“It is little wonder that a birth certificate has never been included as one of the documents to be used as evidence of identification by a person who applies to be registered as a voter. We have quoted the relevant portions of CI 72 and CI 91 in this judgment. None of these specify a birth certificate as an identification document. Its introduction would be a retrograde step.

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“We therefore hold that non-inclusion of birth certificate as a document for the identification of a person who applies for registration as a voter by CI 126 is not inconsistent with or in contravention of the Constitution or any other law,” Justice Kotey wrote.


The opposition NDC, in March this year, filed a suit at the apex court against the Attorney-General and the Electoral Commission, challenging the EC’s decision to exclude the old voter ID card as requirement to acquire a new voter’s ID in the ongoing voter registration exercise.

A private individual, Mark Takyi-Banson, also instituted a legal action against the Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General over same matter, seeking similar reliefs and declaration from the Supreme Court to compel the EC to include birth certificate as one of the documents to prove one’s identity.

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However, the apex court, presided over by Chief Justice Kwesi Anim-Yeboah, unanimously, in a ruling last month, dismissed the case.

The court, thus, upheld the EC’s decision to compile a new register, guided by Constitutional Instrument (CI) 126. It, however, agreed with the NDC’s position that under no circumstance should a person’s accrued right to vote be taken away whimsically by the EC.


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