Rt Hon. Speaker,
Unwanted Witness Uganda is a non-partisan and non-profit Organization working towards the intersect between new technology and human rights.
We are writing to you with a sense of considerable urgency to raise the ongoing gross Human rights concerns that is being experienced by thousands of ordinary citizens under the electronic identity card system, specifically the National Identity Card (NIC). We understand that the government recognizes the importance of Identity solutions in enabling effective policymaking and service delivery, the system has instead turned into a tool for abuse of fundamental human rights.
Deeply worrying is how an ID is being turned into a weapon of discriminating citizens from service delivery, right from financial institutions, government education loan schemes, army recruitment, passport application to health services.
Rt. Honorable speaker while the ministry of health announced plans to have only National Identity cardholders enjoy healthcare services at public health facilities, scorning the fact that close to 20% of Ugandans do not have IDs and many others face delays in replacement of lost cards. Several young people been denied services by financial institutions in the country as financial inclusion is tagged to the ID system as well as registration for a passport. This discriminative tendency retards government’s service delivery agenda of inclusiveness for sustainable development.
More so, with the forthcoming 2021 general elections, we fear that many Ugandans without national IDs will be denied their civic right to vote.
Article 21 of Uganda’s 1995 constitution stipulates that, “all persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.”
Besides, integrating public service access with ID system undermines the inclusion of women from financial services yet access to formal financial services contributes to inclusive economic growth.
Needless to mention, lack of adequate budget and staffing of National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA), a body charged with issuance of IDs is unfairly being borne by majority of low-income earners.
Rt. Hon Speaker, it is therefore our desire and that of the undersigned Ugandans, that you urgently:
- Establish an independent committee to further investigate this public outcry and put in place mechanism to ensure that the ID system does not only advance government interests, identification and security but prioritizes the perspective needs and rights of ordinary Ugandans.
- Task the relevant government ministries and agencies to halt the denial of public services on grounds of lack of a national ID given the challenges encountered by NIRA.
- Task the Minister of Internal Affairs to make a statement on the floor of parliament with clear commitment to addressing the plight of citizens.
Rt. Hon Speaker, we look forward to your timely and positive response and action on the issues that we have brought to your attention.
Chief Executive Officer
Cc: Hon. Mario Obiga Kania
State Minister of Internal Affairs