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New civil registration law in the offing, draft bill before Attorney General

BY: Doreen Andoh
 Rev Kingsley Asare-Addo
Rev Kingsley Asare-Addo

The Births and Deaths Registry and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development are pursuing a new law to address all issues of birth and death registrations in the country.

The law is also expected to meet international standards of civil registration because the current law, which is over 50 years, has seen no review to address modern and emerging issues.

A draft bill to that effect has been put before the Attorney General for finalisation and will later be sent to cabinet and subsequently to Parliament for consideration and passage.

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The initiative comes after the registry came under public criticism for refusing to register certain names such as Nana, Nii, Naa,Togbe and other local names, claiming they were titles and not acceptable for registration under the law.

Draft bill

In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Registrar of Births and Deaths, Rev. Kingsley Asare-Addo, said the bill was drafted after extensive engagements with stakeholders including traditional authorities, the National Identification Authority, religious bodies, legal institutions, the judiciary, Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Immigration Service among others.

The new law, he explained, sought to raise the country’s registration laws to international standards, which makes the prescription for names specific and says that names and titles should be set apart during civil registration of names.

Rev. Asare-Addo said the law, through the extensive stakeholder engagements, would clearly define what titles were and help to legally differentiate them from officially accepted names.

Civil registration

He pointed out that civil registration of births and deaths was not exclusive to Ghana and was guided by United Nations’ protocols, which Ghana is a signatory to.

“In the global civil registration regime, titles are not factored into registration. People’s names are recorded officially so we de-link titles,” he said.

“We want to assure the general public that we are making sure that we address all the issues with names, birth and death registrations through the proposed new law.

He further said a national mutually approved system would be used to define what constituted official names, titles, among others as a country.

Rev. Asare-Addo said the law also sought to inculcate registrations that were not captured by the old law, which was passed in 1965, such as surrogate children and other modern-day emerging registration challenges and emerging demands in terms of names, birth and death registrations.

“Registration of birth in Ghana started as far back as 1912 and 1888 for deaths and the current law was passed in 1965 and having operated the law for over 50 years, we think modernisation has changed or added so much to society and so we have to change the law to meet modern trends,” he emphasised.

Flashback

In January 2018, the Births and Death Registry said it was not going to register titles as names because they were not permitted globally.

The public outcry on the initiative provoked Parliament to summon the sector minister, Hajia Alima Mahama, for questioning.

Hajia Mahama told the house that she had directed the registry to accept all Ghanaian names and added that her ministry was working on a bill to be presented to Parliament to address the challenges.

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