Biometric registration will make birth, baptismal certificates invalid – EC

Dr. Afari-Gyan - EC Boss

The Electoral Commission of Ghana, has stated that birth and baptismal certificates will no longer be accepted as proof of one’s status as a Ghanaian citizen.

Making this known in Accra at a roundtable discussion on Ghana’s biometric registration exercise on March 24, 2012, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman, Electoral Commission of Ghana, said the decision had been informed by the easy access to those documents by even non-Ghanaians.

Answering a question posed by a participant at the discussion held by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG)  in collaboration with the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) with support from the European Commission, Star-Ghana and the African Capacity Building Foundation, he said “Some of the documents you mentioned are no longer valid”.

He said according to the parliamentary committee charged with looking into issues relating to elections in the country “With birth certificates – now anybody can make a birth certificate, you can go and buy it …so we have taken birth certificate from it.”

“As for baptismal certificates – They said people have already began making baptismal certificates for sometime so they’ve taken that out too. So now you cannot come with a baptismal certificate or birth certificate,” he stated.

But Dr. Afari-Gyan said “If you don’t have any of the documents, what has been agreed to is that you will then take two registered voters to vouch for you” as a Ghanaian citizen.

He however cautioned and stressed that the two citizens who will be vouching for anyone will be swearing an oath by filling out some forms which will be verified and if the information provided is found to be false they will fall foul of the law.

The Electoral Commission Chairman also divulged that now the National Health Insurance (NHIS) ID card  is also in contention, as even non-Ghanaians hold it, adding however that the suggestion to make that also invalid came rather late and for now it is still accepted as proof of Ghanaian citizenship.

Hitherto, the EC said it required evidence of eligibility such as a birth certificate, passport, baptismal card, driver’s license, National ID card, an existing voter card, National Health Insurance card or other bearing the correct date of birth, before an eligible voter will be issued with an instant ID card embossed with his or her picture and a barcode containing the ID number after successful registration.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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