By Grace Mutung’u and Jaaziyah Satar
Kenya introduced digital ID vide an amendment to the Registration of Persons Act in December 2018. The amendment introduced the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) that centralises all government identity systems, popularly known as Huduma Namba (Swahili for service number). CIPIT has discussed the Huduma Namba in previous blog posts. In Janiary 2019, three petitions opposing NIIMS were lodged. Interim orders that partially permitted the NIIMS project were issued in April. The petitions were heard in September of 2019. Judgement was delivered on the 30thof January 2020.
Grounds for the petition
The petitions were grounded on several constitutional issues among them: that NIIMS perpetuated discrimination against groups like Nubians (the first petititoner) who undergo different administrative processes when seeking national identity documents. As the process involves security vetting, groups such Nubians would therefore be profiled during the vetting. Another ground was the procedure used to enact the Bill as it did not go through the Senate. Petitioners also argued that the Bill was unconstitutional as the omnibus style (collation of several bills into one) prevented the public from adequately engaging with the Bill.Finally, petitioners also protested that the amendment was a violation of the right to privacy, due to the intrusive nature of data that was to be collected.
Summary of issues
The court determined that there were three main issues for determination: the legislative procedure, the right to privacy and right to equality and non-discrimination.
- Whether there was Public Participation
The petitioners argued that the public was generally unaware of the Bill and the time provided for public participation was very limited, the notice in the newspaper having only provided for 7 days. The respondents countered that there had been a sufficient amount of time provided to the public to provide their feedback on the amendments made to the Bill from the time it was gazetted.Continue reading