Source: Kenya Human Rights Commission
Proof of identity is essential in enhancing social economic development of all persons in Kenya. As we move to the digital age, analogue identities are being converted into digital identities for use by governments, business enterprises and even access to basic services. Digital identity must however be supported by legal identity which is verified by the stateand is drawn largely from nationality. States give legal identity to persons of known and verifiable citizenship, therefore where states have challenges in proofing citizenship of its citizens the same is compounded on to legal identity. In Kenya citizenship is acquired by birth and by registration. Citizenship by birth applies if at least one parent is a Kenyan Citizen it’s therefore citizenship by descent. Citizenship by registration applies through a naturalization process for legal residence of at least seven (7) years, marriage to a Kenyan citizen and for stateless communities.
The Government of Kenya in an effort to establish a digital repository of all identification and registration processes has introduced the National Integrated Management System (NIIMS) and National Education Information Management System (NEMIS) which is currently being used to register all school going children. Both systems propose to issue a unique identifier number from entry (birth) to exit (death), to do this both systems rely on either a birth certificate or a certificate of registration.Because of the complexities and ambiguities in proof of nationality by birth, Kenyans have differential experiences of acquiring birth certificates, ID cards and passports. Some communities have to meet extra requirements to proof their citizenship. Overall the problem of differential treatment of Kenya citizens has been documented by a number of institutions such as the Commission on Administration of Justice in their report Hata Mnyonge ana Haki of 2015.
KHRC therefore proposed a workshop with legislators from senate and national assembly to look into ways of redressing these gaps and facilitate the migration to a digital database and a digital legal identity. The workshop analyzed existing laws, policies and administrative processes to illustrate differential treatment across the country and explore possible modalities to redress the situation; and come up with a strategy on how to effect the corrective measures in law and administrative policies and move all Kenyans to digital identity.