Pressure Group, Occupy Ghana, has written to the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, to complain about the blacklisting of certain names such as Nana, Nii, Junior, among others from being registered by the Births & Deaths Registry.

Occupy Ghana in the letter argued that, the Registry’s action has no basis in law, and charged the Attorney General to take steps to address the issue since it is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians.

“We have however checked that Act and all relevant laws including the Regulations passed under the Act. We have not seen any provision that either supports this policy or gives the Registrars of Births and Deaths any power to refuse to register any name. We believe that this stance is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians to choose names (particularly Ghanaian names) as they deem fit for their children, subject to the right to change one’s name at any time later in life,” the letter said.

Occupy Ghana in the letter, which was also copied to the Local Government Minister, called on the Attorney General to order the Registry to stop such acts, else they will proceed to court within the next 30 days.

“We therefore write to put you on notice, in accordance with section 10 of the State Proceedings Act, 1998 (Act 555), that we intend to commence civil action against the Republic within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter if this illegality is not addressed forthwith,” the letter read.

Background

Persons who wish to register names such as Nana, Naa, Junior and the likes were turned away by the Births and Deaths Registry with a reason that such names are  considered as titles and not names.

The Registrar at the Births and Deaths Registry, John Yao Agbeko, justified the action saying the law governing the Registry’s operations – Act 301 (1965) – gives them the power to undertake such exercise.

“There is a law that regulates the activities of the Births and Deaths registry, that law is the Births and Deaths Registration Act 301 of 1965. In this act we have a function for the Minister to do a regulation. In the regulation, there is a function for the registrar to come out with a mode of operation.”

“So even though you will not read it in the act, the regulation allows the registrar to come out with the mode of operation to manage the place and that is what we have done. That is why if you go to Tamale, the one over there will tell you that you cannot register that name. If you pick that same name and you run to Accra, in order to do same, you will be told you can’t do it,” he explained on the Citi Breakfast Showon Thursday.

Blacklisting ‘title’ names illegal – Ace Ankomah fumes

A private legal practitioner, and member of Occupy Ghana, Ace Ankomah, had earlier described as illegalthe Births and Deaths Registry’s blacklisting of certain names.

Sharing his view on the matter on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday, Ace Ankomah said what the Registry is doing “is not in the law, and it is also not in the regulation that was supposed to have been made under the 1965 Act.”

This nonsense must stop!

“What the law says is that, they should have a mode of operation. The Births and Deaths Registry has no power to make law. Having a mode of operation must comply with the law. So if the fundamental law does not give you a certain power, you cannot be claiming that you have written your own mode of operation to make that power to yourself. So it does not exist, it has no legal basis, that nonsense must stop,” he fumed.

Below is the full statement from Occupy Ghana:

The Attorney-General & Minister for Justice

Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department

Accra

Dear Madam,

REFUSAL TO REGISTER NAMES AT THE BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRY – NOTICE OF ACTION

Our attention has been drawn to the implementation of an alleged policy by the Registrars of the Birth and Death Registry that refuses to register the birth of children whose names include names such as “Maame,” “Pappa,” “Nana,” “Naa,” “Junior,” “Nene,” “Nii” and “Ohemaa” as well as determine the order in which names must be written, giving prominence to foreign names over indigeneous Ghanaian names. The Registrars claim that they are empowered to do this on the basis of the Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1965 (Act 301).

We have however checked that Act and all relevant laws including the Regulations passed under the Act. We have not seen any provision that either supports this policy or gives the Registrars of Births and Deaths any power to refuse to register any name. We believe that this stance is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians to choose names (particularly Ghanaian names) as they deem fit for their children, subject to the right to change one’s name at any time later in life.

We therefore write to put you on notice, in accordance with section 10 of the State Proceedings Act, 1998 (Act 555), that we intend to commence civil action against the Republic within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter if this illegality is not addressed forthwith.

We however believe that this cause of action will not be necessary if all Registrars of the Births and Deaths Registry will be directed to desist from these acts and stop refusing to register such names as they have no basis in law.

Yours faithfully,

OccupyGhana®

The Minister
Ministry of Local Government

Accra

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