Source: Somaliland Non – State Actors Forum (SONSAF)
Since the onset of Somaliland’s independence, the demand of civil registration and National ID seemed to be a key priority where the President of Somaliland has recently appointed two committees (steering committee and task force) to implement National Identity Card registration system.
The National ID card registration will be conducted through-out Somaliland regions, specially, the 23 electoral districts within a timeframe of 5 months. However, civil society/NSA is dedicated how the process to be more inclusive, participatory, transparent and comprehensive civil registry and National ID should be conducted and this can only be accomplished to give Civil Society/NSA as space as main stakeholder that can undertake nonpartisan, impartial monitoring, and observation so as to promote a wider public engagement. Providing National ID Cards to the citizens is not only preserving the national security but also contributing accountability and integrity of the nation as sovereign state.
Somaliland Non state Actors Forum (SONSAF) and the steering committee and Task force (SCATFO) co-chaired this consultative meeting of National Identity Card management on 15th April, 2014. Where various civil society stakeholders and non state actors in general extensively participated this important event which the exchange of the information was the center of the consultation debates in the subsequent with more critical analysis in order to exam the context of the implementation either socio-political, cultural and technical aspects.
Somaliland has passed two decades of political transformation from tradition to modernity. Somaliland has struggled to develop an authority with extensive international engagements, through a series of national conferences, political institutions eventually developed. Thus, Somaliland has departed from traditional way of governance to democratic and elected government through the Constitution which was approved by the public in a referendum conducted on 31 May 2001 [SORADI, 2013 Exercising the Code of Conduct during the Elections: The Case of the Somaliland, unpublished report].
Furthermore, Somaliland managed several successive elections include two round of local council elections in 2002 and 2012, two round of presidential election in 2003 and 2010, and parliamentary election on September 2005. The road to successful elections was not without challenges, voter registration was key issues in all passed elections were civil registration was to be the base of the voter registration for that aspect the Somaliland government introduced the citizenship law in 2002. Having seen the need for identification system, the President of The Republic Somaliland, H.E Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo issued a Presidential degree to initiate a registration system. The President appointed a Steering Committee and Task Force (SCATFO) to manage, oversee and advice on how the identity cards being issued to the Somaliland citizens. The SCATFO recommended the adoption of a multipurpose Card which would help to manage several applications that are all dependent on the same individual’s identity being first affirmed.
The United Nations defines civil registration as “a continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirements of a country. Civil registration is carried out primarily for the purpose of establishing the legal documents provided by the law. These records are also a main source of vital statistics.
Historically, the Somaliland citizenship law was passed On 23 June 1960, as a Somaliland Nationality and Citizenship Ordinance 1960 (Ordinance No. 15 of 1960) and came into force three days later on the independence of Somaliland on 26 June 1960. Although the independent State of Somaliland joined the former Italian Somalia on the independence of the latter on 1 July 1960, again Somaliland revoked the Union with Italian Somalia; this law was no longer applied to Somaliland citizens from the date of the re-assertion of Somaliland’s independence on 18 May 1991. On the other hand, Somaliland introduced the citizenship Law (Law No: 22 of 2002) to deal with the citizenship of the independent state of Somaliland. A National Identity Card is a portable document, typically a plasticized card currently, with digitally-embedded information, that someone is required or encouraged to carry as a means of confirming his or her identity. The meeting participants highlighted the importance of National Identity Cards hence, in order to verify anyone who belongs to Somaliland as native citizen, and in placing a mechanism of full verifications of the Somalilanders and non- Somalilanders is an essential at micro and macro level so as to maximize the consistency and credibility of the National ID management.
- To carry out civil registration, needs to consider key issues include financial, legal, socio-political aspects, and accessibility of registration centers such as distance, registration facilities, and population density.
- The National ID registration must be conducted in a manner which is nonpartisan, fair, impartial, transparent and reassurance of the maximum third party monitoring and observation.
- It was revealed the fundamental importance of the National ID in terms of security, service allocations and integrity of the nation as sovereign independent state.
- The role of Civil Society/NSA has been acknowledged as a key stakeholder in the areas of public awareness, monitoring, and observation of national Identity management process at all levels.
- In strong terms, civil society is looking forward that civil registration and National ID management should be impartially conducted with the maximum restrictions in order to make sure anyone that does not belong to Somaliland or not demonstrated the age that was intended to access.
- Civil Society/NSA is recommending to the government and other mandated institutions to develop policy and legal framework both civil registry and National ID management.
- To utilize the past experience of voter registration to avoid any abuse in the form of multiple registration, and improper/illegal registration
- Civil registry process and ID management require in a justice manner that will serve the national interest.
- ID registration centers should be mapped in advance according to the accessibility and safety.
- The steering committee/task force needed to contemplate in the long run of security of the facilities and the system coherence and rationality to contextualize the both technical applicability and social spheres.
- To build and enhance the capacity of ID registration personnel in terms of data management, human resource and among others,
- The civil society also encouraged to create the sense of belongings of the National ID in the short and long term by employing different methods and approaches.