Citizens in traditionally marginalised North-Eastern Kenya to get IDs within 21 days
- The Government has moved to address historical registration challenges that have plagued the region.
- Immigration PS Julius Bitok was speaking during a meeting with MPs from the six counties that had been convened to discuss ways to fast-track and promote registration of residents.
Residents of North-eastern Kenya and surrounding counties will now receive National IDs within three weeks as the Government moves to address historical registration challenges that have plagued the region.
Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the Government will also review policies on mandatory vetting of residents in Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties as pre-condition to issuance of IDs and other registration documents.
The PS who was speaking during a meeting with MPs from the six counties that had been convened to discuss ways to fast-track and promote registration of residents in the vast region however said the review will be subject to the Cabinet approval.
“This meeting kicks off the journey towards eliminating vetting of persons from northern Kenya. We are determined to honour the President’s commitment to ensure all Kenyans are treated fairly and have equal access to Government’s services. We will ensure IDs are delivered within 21 days.”
Through the North-eastern parliamentary caucus chair, Ali Rasso Dido, who is also the Saku MP and the leadership forum’s chairman and Mandera North MP Abdullah Bashir Sheikh, the MPs had urged the government to do away with the vetting saying it amounted to discrimination and was largely responsible for low registration figures in the counties.
The leaders cited numerous challenges encountered by their constituents when pursuing birth certificates, IDs and passports. They include long distances, high costs of travel and inordinate delays in the vetting processes.
While awaiting the Cabinet for policy direction on the matter, the meeting resolved to decentralise the identification teams to location and sub-location levels and to involve community elders to speed up applications to deserving applicants.
PS Bitok said the Government will rely on chiefs and their assistants, other National Government Administration Officers (NGAOs) and religious leaders to ensure processed IDs were delivered on time.
The MPs asked the government to prioritise the hiring of locals from the region who they said are better placed to adapt to the nomadic lifestyle of the community and to promote confidence in the registration process while also promoting inclusivity in public service.
“Members of the northern Kenya communities are majorly pastoralists therefore they move quite often in search of greener pastures for their livestock. These migratory patterns find them crossing even country borders for long periods of time. Some marry and even get children across neighbouring countries,’ Hon Ali said.
The chair of the President’s Council on Economic Affairs Dr David Ndii who addressed the meeting rooted for the elimination of vetting arguing it was counterproductive. He said affected communities felt marginalised therefore exposing their members to radicalisation and anti-government groupings.
“Communities that feel discriminated are more vulnerable to radicalisation. Ethnic profiling is wrong. It is our responsibility as the government to end it by removing barriers and inconveniences brought about by country borders and in place of it bring about equality in government services and resource distribution,” he said.
Vetting as a requirement to the issuance of ID and birth certificate became entrenched in Northern Kenya following the Shifta insurgency of the 1960s. It is frowned upon by the Northern Kenya communities who regard it as ethnic profiling and discrimination and as a deliberate barrier to access to important government services.
Kenya Kwanza manifesto
The Kenya Kwanza manifesto promised to review the requirement that has been a recurrent pressure point for successive administrations. PS Bitok under whose docket birth certificates, IDs and passports fall however said the elimination of vetting will be balanced against larger security concerns especially along porous borders. He said the introduction of the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) as birth certificate number will eliminate the need for future vetting for IDs.
Registration agencies will also be required to work together to ensure citizens are not subjected to repeat verification process while the ongoing digitalisation will ensure that records for all Kenyans are verifiable through a single search.
The meeting was attended by the Director General, Immigration Alexander Muteshi and the secretaries for National Registration Bureau and the Civil Registration Bureau, Christopher Wanjau and Paul Mwangemi respectively.
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