On 31st December 2018, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Miscellaneous Statute Amendment Act, 2018. The Act provides for amendments to the Registration of Persons Act Cap 107 by:
- Inserting the following new definitions to S3-
“Biometric” means unique identifiers or attributes including finger prints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves and Deoxyribonucleic Acid in digital form.
“Global Positioning System Coordinates” means the unique identifier of precise geographic location on the earth, expressed in alphanumeric character being a combination of latitude and longitude.
2. Introducing S9A establishing a National Integrated Identity Management System.
Ati that law says what?
Each person must avail their biometric data and the GPS co-ordinates of their place of residence to the government for the issuance of a Huduma Number to be used the single source of identification for all government services including access to identification documents for both citizens and foreign nationals, healthcare, education and voting.
These amendments substantially limit and affect the realisation of various constitutional rights including:
- The right to life of an unborn child under Article 26 where an expectant mother is not registered.
- The right to equality and freedom from discrimination for minorities and marginalised groups under Article 27 and 56 such as the Nubian community and Kenyans of Somali heritage yet to be registered under the current system of registration.
- The right to privacy under Article 31 with no safeguards for the protection of information collected.
- The right to freedom of movement and residence under Article 39.
- The right to access economic and social rights under Article 43.
- The right to family under Article 45.
- The right of a Child under Article 53 to nationality, education and protection from harm by requiring registration as a prerequisite for access.
Bottom Line: Government has some noble aspirations but a system as robust as NIIMS should not be established through a Miscellaneous Amendment but rather a substantive amendment to the Registration of Persons Act with a complete national Data Protection Policy and Law.