Story: Caroline Boateng
The Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Professor Ernest Dumor, has emphasised the all–inclusiveness of the National Identification System (NIS).
“After reviewing other identification systems in Rwanda and Germany, we came to the full conclusion that this system is to unite rather than divide. We want to have a system that is more inclusive than exclusive,” he stressed, adding that for that matter, ethnic and religious data of Ghanaians would not be collected at the time of registration.
Prof Dumor was speaking at a day’s workshop on Data Capture (Registration) Protection of Personal Information and Privacy draft bill organised by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Parliamentary Research Department in Accra.
The workshop brought together drafters, parliamentarians, civil society groups, trade unions and other members of the public.
The government’s advisor on the Right of Information Legislation, Mr Justice V.C.R.C.A. Crabbe; the People’s National Convention (PNC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Zebilla and Member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Mr John Ndebugre; the MP for South Tongu, Mr Ken Dzirasah, and the MP for Evalue Gwira, Mr Kojo Armah, who also chaired the programme, shared views on the bill and how it could be made to better serve the country.
Prof Dumor, giving an overview of the draft bill, said in drafting it, the focus had been to maintain a balance between the national interest and the privacy of individuals.
He said although the bill, when passed into law, would made it compulsory for people to register, all Ghanaians had to bear in mind that the purpose of the bill was to locate every citizen for good governance initiatives.
He stressed that the information that would be collected on individuals was for civil purposes related to development, planning and administration of the resources of the country.
Prof Dumor, however, pointed out that other agencies, when faced with an identity problem, could be helped by comparing and authenticating their information with that of the database of the NIS.
A lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof Kofi Quashigah, presenting a legal appraisal of the bill, stressed the need for policy makers to resolve any misgiving on the part of the public by decriminalising aspects of the bill that made the non-possession of the identity card at any particular time an offence.
He said the NIA had to show the capacity to manage the information collected from individuals and ensure that other agencies that would rely on such information followed procedure.
He added that portions of the bill that allowed security institutions access to the information of individuals for the purposes of investigations and prosecution but prevented the individual from getting the same information were against the principle of mutuality and fairness.
A member of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Mr Charles Karla, contributing, said he had been a recipient of an identity card that was issued in the 1970s but said after receiving it, the programme fizzled out.
He, therefore, urged the speedy implementation of the NIS and the issuance of durable cards when implementation was fully rolled out.
Mr Ndebugre, in an interview later, said the programme had received the support of all in Parliament because of the belief that the NIS was in the interest of all Ghanaians.