Government should quickly address fears about the credibility of Uganda’s data bank for the national ID project. Results of a survey conducted by Research World International, for Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (Ccedu) says more than half of 14,080,000 Ugandans registered for the ID card were not verified. This means 6.9m applicants had their citizenship verified at registration while another 8.2m people were registered without verification between April 14 and August 11, 2014.
This weakness should be corrected quickly before the second phase of the National Security Information Systems (NSIS) mass enrolment exercise begins.
An accurate and verifiable national database is an important gold standard in proving national identity and citizenship. While Ccedu’s concern is to guarantee an accurate and verifiable voters register, there are more strategic benefits that the mass national ID enrollment should safeguard.
First, correcting the weak points is important because this central registry constitutes our national citizenship identification databank. Second, a disputed database undermines the trustworthiness of this project. This implies Uganda’s goal to have only citizens registered for the IDs were not met and may lead to abuse by non-citizens. This also means the planned extraction of data for national voters’ roll by the Electoral Commission (EC) will be questioned. As a result, this would mar the credibility of a national poll and results of votes cast.
Third, a flawed central registry of Ugandans is also bound to create problems for national security. This would make decisions to have only Ugandans employed in high-risk sectors such as intelligence and defence difficult. Moreover, this would expose to risks data of government agencies such as EC, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Immigration Department and Uganda Registration Services Bureau, which are to be linked to this central national ID register. This would compromise the security of issuances of passports, driving licences loans, and buying sensitive items such as firearms.
Nevertheless, it is good that more scrutiny of the applicants’ databank is ongoing, as NSIS legal manager Deborah Amanya says. But this rigorous vetting of registration should have been done at the more critical local level by the area parish verification committees. Here, the parish chief, a parish internal security officer, a local leader and an elder are essential in establishing the true identity of applicants for national ID card.
Most importantly, the national IDs should not be issued just yet. The flaws must be sorted out, and citizenship identification data bank cleaned.
The issue: ID registration
Our view: Most importantly, the national IDs should not be issued just yet. The flaws must be sorted out, and citizenship identification data bank cleaned.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor