• The vetting process discriminates and delays acquiring an ID, contributes to ethnic profiling and increases youth vulnerability to radicalisation.
• The government needs to eliminate the discriminatory vetting process and treat all Kenyans equally, as per the Constitution.
Operationalising the 21 days to issue ID cards for residents of Northeastern, as stated by the Immigration and Citizenship PS Julius Bitok, will restore the hope of access to government services as well as the realisation of the Bill of Rights.
Article 27(4) expressly states, "The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth."
A national identity card signifies proof of citizenship. In the Northeastern region, obtaining a Kenyan identity card has become an obligation to be pursued by Kenyan Somalis instead of a right to be facilitated by the state.
The community members of Northeastern, particularly the youth, are arrested by the police for lack of ID. They also cannot participate in their democratic rights because without an ID, for instance, you cannot vote.
Youth from the region are frustrated when applying for an identification card. There are too many conditions, such as being asked to produce documents not provided for by law. Also, the residents do facilitate the vetting process by paying Sh3,000.
The applicants who pay the amount then appear before a vetting committee and provide their documents and must answer various questions from the committee panel. Some applicants are lucky to pass the vetting, while others are asked to return repeatedly with additional documents or information, thus delaying their acquisition of ID.
It is evident that the vetting process discriminates and delays acquiring an ID, contributes to ethnic profiling and increases youth vulnerability to radicalisation.
The government needs to eliminate the discriminatory vetting process and treat all Kenyans equally, as per the Constitution. An individual cannot vote, buy property, open a bank account, or be employed without an ID. By the government enforcing this discriminatory vetting process, it prevents innocent individuals, particularly the youth, from making good use of their productive stage in life.
Please do away with these many hurdles and treat all Kenyans equally.
Abdishukri Jelle Ibrahim is the Garissa county coordinator – Muslims for human Rights (Muhuri)