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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Suit challenging legality of SIM card registration in Ghana ‘thrown out’

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The suit, which was challenging the legality of SIM card registration in Ghana, has been dismissed by the Accra High Court.

The Human Rights Division of the High Court in Accra presided over by Barbara N. Tetteh-Charway J. on Wednesday (July 13, 2022) dismissed the case challenging the legality of the ongoing SIM card registration exercise.

The case was filed by one Francis Kwarteng Arthur who was praying, inter alia, for an order to stop the ongoing SIM card registration exercise.

The court held that the SIM registration directive by the National Communications Authority (NCA) was lawful and in the public’s interest and none of the actions of the NCA violated any law.

This followed the dismissal of the injunction application filed by lawyers for the applicant in 2021.

It will be recalled that the High Court in Accra on Thursday, December 9, 2021 struck out the application for an Interlocutory Injunction to halt the on-going SIM Card Registration exercise.

The decision to withdraw the application for injunction by the applicant followed the filing of an affidavit in opposition by the NCA which stated amongst others that the on-going SIM registration exercise was backed by law.

The SIM registration exercise is currently ongoing and will end on July 31, 2022.

Why Francis Kwarteng Arthur went to court on sim card registration

The applicant – Francis Kwarteng Arthur, had wanted the court to halt the sim-card registration exercise, arguing that it was unlawful, and violated his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

The applicant filed the case against the NCA, the Attorney-General (A-G) and operators of three telecommunications networks – MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTigo.

However, in a judgment Wednesday (July 13, 2022), the court held that the sim-card registration was lawful, was in the public interest and justified.

Again, the court held that the applicant’s allegations of human rights violation were mere assumptions not supported by law or facts and that he failed to prove how his human rights had been violated as a result of the sim-card registration exercise.

Consequently, the court dismissed the application as one without merit.

Present in court for the judgment Wednesday were the applicant – Mr Arthur, officials of the NCA and Lawyer Patrick Larweh Kpalam, who held brief for Lawyer Gary Nimako Marfo, counsel for NCA.

Application

In November, last year, Mr Arthur, a legal practitioner, filed an application at the High Court against the sim-card registration for the enforcement of his fundamental human per Article 33 of the 1992.

He argued that per law, it was only the National Identification Authority (NIA) that had the legal mandate to collect biometric data in Ghana, and therefore it was unlawful for the NCA to direct the telecommunication companies to collect biometric data as part of the sim-card registration exercise.

It was therefore his case that the directive by the NCA for the telcos to collect his biometric data for sim-card registration was a violation of his right to administrative justice, property, speech, information and privacy.

He therefore wanted the High Court to quash the directive by the NCA for the telecommunication companies to procure, store or use his personal information for the sim-card registration.

Again, he prayed the court to stop the NCA and the mobile network operators from collecting his personal information for the sim –card registration, effectively halting the exercise.

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