National ID Data Was Not Verified, Study Finds

Data for more than half of the people who registered for national identity cards was not verified, a study has suggested.

The research into the ongoing mass enrolment for the National Security Information System (NSIS) project was conducted by Research World International (RWI) for Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (Ccedu).

It shows that about 46 per cent of those registered were verified. This raises the danger that the project data may undermine the credibility of the national ID system, which could have national security implications. The research is based on a sample of six districts in the north, eight in the west, seven in the east and eight in central Uganda.

“There were efforts to ensure that only Ugandan citizens were registered although not all people were verified,” the report partly reads.

According to Hajji Abdul Nsubuga, the head of the national Id project secretariat, more than 15.2 million people were registered, about one million more than the figure quoted by RWI’s Dr Patrick Wakida. The report was launched at Protea hotel on September 24.

Going by the research findings, about 6.9m had their citizenship verified while 8.2m (54 per cent) were registered without going through the verification process.

According to guidelines of the exercise conducted between April and August, at the local level, the registrations were supposed to be approved by a parish verification committee comprising of a parish chief, a parish internal security officer (Piso), a local leader and an elder.

“Of the entire verification team, 53 per cent were present throughout the day and from the rating of enrolment officers, it was reported that four per cent asked for money from applicants,” the report noted.

Deborah Amanya, the legal manager at NSIS, however, told The Observer that further verification of the applicants was still going on.

“It is not automatic that the parish verification will be accepted, there are various levels of citizenship verification because the applications are going through another validation exercise at Kololo,” Amanya said.

Delayed:

According to the report, about 27 per cent of applicants were turned away by the verification teams because they were less than 16 years, the minimum age for the Id registration. At least 61 per cent of the applicants for the ID had their age verified through submission of documents

The report notes there were some eligible citizens who had their ID applications rejected.

The report also questions the registration of the under-18s without the sanctioning of their parents in accordance with the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. Amanya, however, argues that, for purposes of issuance of Ids, the law allows the registration of an underage without necessarily getting the parent’s nod of approval.

According to NSIS’ roadmap, the first IDs were to be issued this month. However, there are no indications that Ugandans will get Ids this month.

“We have suffered some delays because we have not finalized the guidelines for issuance of the IDs,” the project’s spokesman Paul Bukenya said on Thursday.

Legal challenges:

To optimize costs, government took on a multisectoral approach bringing together different government departments such as EC, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), Immigration department and Uganda registration Services Bureau (URBS) to create a national data bank under NSIS. However, none of the departments can access the data because of the absence of an enabling law.

Electoral Commission for instance, needs the data to extract the national voters’ register ahead of the 2016 general elections.

“All these agencies have been registering Ugandans for their own interests but we want to have a central registry that will be used for other purposes beyond citizenship identification,” Amanya said.

Source : The Observer

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