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Ombudsman conducts inquiry into access of identity documents in Northern Kenya

Commission on Administrative Justice is carrying out a public inquiry regarding access to legal identity documents such as national ID, passport, birth certificates, and death certificates by citizens in Northern Kenya.

Led by the Vice-Chairperson of the Commission Washington Opiyo Sati and Commissioner of Access to Information Ms. Lucy Ndungu, the Commission in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance is embarking on the exercise, scheduled to last a week in Wajir County, in the wake of numerous complaints by citizens and reports alleging discrimination in the process of acquiring them.

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According to the Ombudsman, the locals have also lamented inordinate delays in the issuance of Identity Cards and Kenyan passports, particularly by those of Somali ethnic origin in Wajir County.

“The Commission will throughout this week 19th– 23rd February 2024 camp in Wajir town to engage state, none state actors and members of the public to document barriers and challenges faced by citizens in getting these vital services from government agencies mandated with these responsibilities to issuing legal identity documents to Kenyan citizen residing in Wajir County,” noted the commission in a press statement Tuesday morning

The Florence Kajuju-led Commission wants to identify challenges faced by the residents in the acquisition of the said documents. It also wants to unearth challenges faced by state actors such as National Registration Bureau officers at the National and County levels, Administrators at the County, Sub-county, Location, and village levels, and The County and Sub-county security teams, in processing the National ID cards to the residents of border Counties.

The Ombudsman will further audit the procedures followed in issuing ID cards and identify any loopholes, ascertain the extent of alleged discrimination in the issuance of ID cards; and make policy, legislative, and administrative recommendations to the Government to improve the registration and issuance processes.

CAJ reiterates that all government agencies are under obligation under Article 232 of the Constitution to ensure the effective and efficient processing of these vital documents to all Kenyan citizens without delays and discrimination.

“Without these vital documents, citizens cannot claim their basic rights and enjoy public services such as registration in government social protection programs, health care, school enrolment, the right to vote, employment, the opening and operating of bank accounts, the registration of mobile phones, the ability to move freely in and outside the country and to access legal services, etc,” the Commission said

The ombudsman says the exercise in Wajir County is in furtherance of the realization of Sustainable Development Goals which are to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“In the context of SDG 16, the Commission’s work is particularly important in empowering and protecting vulnerable and marginalized communities in Kenya in line with its motto: Hata Mnyonge Ana Haki,” said the Commission

As an independent oversight body responsible for enforcing administrative justice and access to information in the public sector, including the security sector, the Ombudsman plays a key role in facilitating access to justice and advancing good security sector governance.

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