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Birth certificate does not prove you are Ghanaian, it is just a document – Justice Torkornoo

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On Friday, May 26, Chief Justice nominee Justice Gertrude Torkornoo reaffirmed the stance of the Supreme Court regarding birth certificates and citizenship.

She emphasized that a birth certificate is not considered proof of citizenship but rather a documentation of one’s place of birth while engaging Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

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Justice Torkornoo clarified that the information provided on a birth certificate is not verifiable.

She further explained that factors such as lineage, the identity of one’s parents, and their relationship play a crucial role in determining citizenship.

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While acknowledging that a birth certificate is a requirement to indicate place of birth, Justice Torkornoo emphasized that it does not establish nationality.

The distinction between birth certificates and citizenship underscores the importance of considering multiple factors in determining one’s legal status.

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“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, [but] in our country, being born in Ghana doesn’t make you a citizen of Ghana.

“It is your relationship with your mother, it is your mother’s identity, your father’s identity, it is your lineage that determines your citizenship. So that form [birth certificate] is just an international requirement, we must know where everyone is born. But beyond that, your nationality is derived from that form, the evidence on that form.”

The Supreme Court first ruled that birth certificates cannot be proof of citizenship.

“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,” the Supreme Court verdict said in part.

The ruling was in the matter of the NDC and another vs the Attorney General.

The plaintiffs were seeking to expand the required documents Ghanaians can use to obtain a voter’s ID, one of them asking for birth certificates to be included.

But the Supreme Court said a birth certificate does not satisfy the requirements of Article 42 of the Constitution.

“In fact, as a form of Identification, it is worse than the NHIA card which was held to be unconstitutional as evidence of identification of a person who applies for registration as a voter,” the court said.


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