19 February 2019

Kenya: Lobby Opposes New Citizen Listing System

The battle against a platform for digitising and centralising citizens and foreigners' records was taken to court Monday.

Kenya Human Rights Commission wants the government stopped from implementing the National Integrated Identification Management System (Niims).

KHRC sued National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Attorney-General Paul Kariuki Kihara, Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) as well as the Kenya Law Reform (KLR).

According to the commission, there already exists a parallel mechanism called the Integrated Population Registration System.

Niims was introduced through the 2018 Miscellaneous Amendments Act, which saw changes to the Registration of Persons Act.

KHRC said while digitising records can improve efficiency in registration and increase data quality while data management costs are lowered, the country does not have laws or policies on information protection.

The commission added that Niims would breach the law as information relating to family or private affairs may unnecessarily be revealed.

It argued that the legislation of Niims does not provide for a transition mechanism from the present regime and exposes taxpayers to inconveniences.

According to the lobby, Niims will resort to coercion and blackmail for personal information in exchange for constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The commission faulted KLR for failing to protect Kenyans from possible threat of violation of their rights following the introduction of Niims.

"KHRC brings this case to defend, uphold and promote good governance, human dignity, transparency and accountability," Mr George Kegoro said.

The amendments that led to the formation of Niims were made on November 29, 2018 and assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta on December 31.

Niims was to become operational Monday. It is expected to create, manage, maintain and operate a national population register as a single source of personal information of Kenyans and foreigners.

KHRC argued that there was no public participation when the changes to the law to create Niims were made.

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