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Identification and registration of Kenya citizens

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 00:00 -- BY JOHN CHIGITI
IDs.National Identification Cards.
Some of the uncollected National Identifications Cards at the Likoni crossing channel.Photo Elkana Jacob

Kenyans who have attained the age of majority which is 18 ought to have identity cards. This document was used by the colonial government to monitor or is it minimise the movement of Kenyans during the preparation and struggle for independence. The document was to always hang around the neck. It was known as Kipande then. A read of the book called Britains Gulag by Caroline Elkins can give you an idea of how Kenyans suffered in the hands of the colonial master during the pre-independence era.

The kipande has since remained with us but in a less oppressive manner. It is a crime to walk around without a national identity card if you have attained the age of majority. Those of us who were in Nairobi during the 1982 coup will tell you what it was like to walk around without a national identity card.

You cannot transact any business in Kenya without an ID. It is the most accepted form of identification in all walks of life. We all know that you cannot vote or exercise your political rights without this tiny but powerful document. It contains a lot of information. In a bid to comply with the constitution, the Immigration minister has developed a Bill that is likely to become an Act of Parliament to make provision for the identification and registration of Kenya citizens, for issuance of national identity cards and for purposes connected therewith.

This Act of Parliament shall apply to all persons who are citizens of Kenya and who have attained the prescribed age of registration and issuance of ID cards. The concerned office shall establish, develop and maintain a register of all citizens to whom this Act applies, in which there shall be entered the following particulars like ones civil status data. This means birth, marriage, death and divorce data. It is also known as the Civil Status Registrar in some countries.

Other particulars shall include ones ID card number, full names, sex, date of birth, mother’s name and her national identity card number, father’s name and his national identity card number, guardian’s name and national identity card number (where applicable), marital status. if married, spouse(s’) name(s) and national identity card number and tribe.

Upon registration of an applicant under this Act, a registration officer shall process and issue a National Identity card in the prescribed manner. A registered person may apply for change of particulars in the register upon such terms and conditions as may be prescribed under this Act.

Where the facial features or biometrics or both the facial features and biometrics of a registered person have been permanently defaced or otherwise altered whether through accident, medical procedure or other cause the registered person shall be required to report such event to a registration officer and the registration officer may issue a replacement National Identity card and enter the particulars of the replacement in the register.

The Director may decline to change the particulars of a registered person appearing in the register if in his or her opinion such change will result in a change of the registered person’s Identity, notwithstanding that such a change is permissible under any other written law or registration system.

Every person of full capacity who attains or has attained the prescribed age of registration and is unregistered shall be liable to registration under this Act and in the former case shall within three months of attaining the age, and in both cases present himself or herself before a registration officer and for that purpose shall permit his or her photo, finger and thumb or toe or palm impressions to be recorded in the manner prescribed.

An application for a National Identity card shall be accompanied by the applicant’s birth certificate and either one of his parent’s National Identity card or in the case of a Kenya citizen by registration or naturalisation, the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation.

In case of any person incapacitated by illness, age, or other reason from applying for registration or for a National Identity card, it shall be the duty of the parent, guardian or other person responsible for the welfare of that person to take steps to cause the person to be registered and to be issued with a National Identity card.