(Freetown, Monday 8 November 2021) – National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) has commenced its Nationwide Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting in the Western Area on the Review of the draft National Civil Registration (NCR) Act of 2016 and Development of Civil Registration Regulations.

The meeting was held at the Golden Tulip Conference Hall in Freetown. Today marked the beginning of a two-day consultation among stakeholders.

The essence of the meeting is for stakeholders to review, discuss and make valuable inputs from their perspectives on the proposed drafts.

Usman Banya – Ministry of Internal Affairs

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the meeting, Usman Banya from the Ministry of Internal Affairs appreciated NCRA’s work for spearheading such a crucial process of reviewing some of its laws that are in conflict with other legislations.

He encouraged stakeholders present to make valuable contributions to the drafts.

Elisa Tesselli – Adviser on Governance-EU Delegation to Sierra Leone

Making a statement, Adviser on Governance-EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Elisa Tesselli said that the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone welcomes the kick off of the consultative session on the review of the National Civil Registration Act and development of civil registration regulations in Sierra Leone. She disclosed that EU had been supporting Sierra Leone in the areas of civil registration, and that the EU is glad to support NCRA in addressing these important challenges.

She said that civil registration is the fundamental source register on the population data that registers vital events for all citizens from birth to death, ensuring the civil status data being correct and completely up-to-date.

She also stated that the meeting’s importance could not be over-emphasized as the act establishing the NCRA does not reflect some objective and functions of the Authority and in some part is even conflicting with other legislations.

Tesselli noted that the discussion of this draft with stakeholders will give everyone the opportunity to bring inputs which are expected to lead to a more comprehensive legislation and increase the potential for compliance to its provisions.

In his contribution, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Sayed A. Sahibzada stated that since the establishment of NCRA and enactment of NCR Act 2016 they saw an urgent need to review NCRA Act.

He noted that the NCRA objective for engaging and consulting stakeholders is to inform them on the provisions of the proposed new legislation and regulations, thereby giving them the opportunity to make relevant inputs into the draft documents from their perspective.

The discussions, he went on, would lead to a more comprehensive legislation and regulations when enacted.

Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI – Director General, NCRA

During his address at the consultative meeting on the proposed new draft of the National Civil Registration Legislation, National Civil Registration Regulations, National Identity Card Regulation and National Identification Number, the Director-General of NCRA, Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI commended participants for honouring the invitation to participate in the Stakeholders Consultation on the proposed drafts.

He underscored the mandate of NCRA as stipulated in the NCR Act 2016 as well as outlining some of the challenges NCRA has been encountering with other statutory bodies which has prompted the drafting and review of the NCRA Act 2016 and to also develop Civil Registration Regulations.

Mr. Massaquoi said: “by an Act of Parliament, the National Civil Registration Act of 2016 gave the NCRA the mandate to conduct compulsory registration of citizens and non-citizens resident in Sierra Leone, to provide for the issuance of identity cards, to be responsible for the registration of births, adoptions, deaths, marriages, divorces and nullities and related matter throughout Sierra Leone.”

NCRA Director-General further stated that gaps in the Act had been the overlapping of mandates and functions in certain areas with other statutory authorities.

“Specifically, there is a conflict with other legislations which were not expressly repealed by the NCR Act; there is the absence of Civil Registration Regulation which will clearly state out the requirements, procedures, fees, and fines for the registration of vital events and civil registration generally; and there isn’t a National Identity Card Regulation which will clearly set out the regulations for obtaining, renewing, changing etc. of National Identity Cards among other things. These challenges precipitated the need for the review of the current NCR Act and the development of regulations for Civil Registration and Identity Management in Sierra Leone,” Mr. Massaquoi acknowledged.

He revealed that the process to review the NCR Act 2016 began in 2019 and in order to overcome those challenges, NCRA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and other mechanisms but they have not been exhaustive to address the challenges and gaps the Authority continue to grapple with.

“This process has come a long way. In 2019, a Comprehensive Country Assessment on CRVS was funded by UNICEF and GOSL with technical assistance from UNECA which revealed the imperative need for legal reforms to take place for an integrated CRVS system to become functional and effective,” he stated.

The DG disclosed that the CRVS and Identity Management Systems in Sierra Leone is one of the best in Africa as espoused by the Director of UNECA during the launch of the five Years National CRVS and ID Management Strategic Plan and the Comprehensive Country Assessment Report.

Mr. Massaquoi said: “that Sierra Leone is one of only a few countries in Africa that has an integrated CRVS System with Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management consolidated and housed in one Authority.”

He acknowledged the immense financial and technical support the NCRA has been receiving from its partners to review the Act, especially the European Union, Irish Aid and the UNDP in a bid to iron out any legal creases that may hinder the effective work of NCRA.

“In addition to financial and technical support secured from these partners towards this and other related activities, the support has included hiring of an International Consultant to team up with National Legal Experts to ensure the review of the NCR Act goes smoothly and stands the test of time,” he informed.

The NCRA Director-General stressed that there is need to review the NCR Act 2016 because of the challenges highlighted.

“Given such complexities and need, the need for legal reforms is paramount and thankfully, NCRA and our partners have taken this seriously which is why we are here today and we will hold similar Stakeholder Consultations in all five regions of the country over the next few days where the NCRA will interact with Stakeholders with whom it shares data including those who play key roles in the CRVS and ID Management process to adequately and sufficiently make their various contributions to the draft documents,” he stressed.

He further said that: “Some of these Agencies include the Office of Registrar General, Statistics Sierra Leone, National Electoral Commission, Ministries of Gender and Children’s Affairs and Social Welfare, Local Government and Rural Development, Health and Sanitation.”

He expressed optimism that their valuable inputs and revisions will be incorporated in the proposed new Legislation and Regulations which will be presented to Parliament in the last quarter of 2021.

In his statement, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema said it is important that the legislation governing Civil Registration be clearly defined with unambiguously legal provisions and Regulations that will cater to the purpose of having a coherent legal framework to regulate registration services and ensure that vital statistics are compiled and disseminated. As the Authority has commenced the consultative sessions today, he implored all stakeholders present and who are pertinent in the work of the NCRA to make valid input in the proposed draft Bill and Regulations which will be incorporated into the final versions of the documents that the Ministry of Internal Affairs shall table in parliament.

The Minister mentioned that NCRA is one of the many institutions that is being supervised by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and it is charged with the mandate to undertake the continuous, permanent, universal and compulsory registration of vital events such as births, marriages, divorces, and adoptions, nullities and deaths and recognition of citizens and residents of Sierra Leone. He added that the establishment of the NCRA by the Government of Sierra Leone has greatly improved the registration of vital events and identity management, thereby supporting administrative functions as information compiled using the registration method provides essential data for national or regional planning in health, education, electoral registers, national identification and other sectors.

The Honorable Minister mentioned that civil registration process generates documentation that supports an individual’s right to recognition as a person and acknowledges their formal relationship with the state.

“The relevance of Civil Registration for the individual is that it provides proof of identity, age and date of birth, place of birth, Citizenship, Parentage, Evidence of death for heirs to collect insurance, probate estate,” he added.

With the assurance of the Government of Sierra Leone’s support, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs officially launched the Stakeholder Consultative session.

National Legal Consultant, Augustine S. Marrah Esq, made a PowerPoint presentation on the draft documents.

John Godswill Lavalie – Deputy DG, NCRA

In attendance are the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema, DG NCRA, Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI, Deputy DG NCRA, John Godswill Lavalie, representatives of EU, Irish Aid, UNDP, CSOs, MDAs, Media and senior staff of the NCRA.


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