Members of Parliament are set to debate and vote on a proposed law that would create a system for generating a harmonised national identification document for Kenyans.
The creation of the National Integrated Identity Management System (Niims) is part of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, which was introduced in the National Assembly two weeks ago.
Niims will create, manage, maintain and operate a national population register as a single source of personal information on all Kenyan citizens and registered foreigners resident in the country, according to the bill.
Under this system, all Kenyans will have a unique national identification number.
It will also harmonise all information from other databases hosted by government agencies on registration.
It will print and distribute all national identification cards, refugee cards, foreigner certificates, birth and death certificates, driving licences, work permits, passports and foreign travel documentation, and student identification cards.
The Niims will also generate a format for the document that will capture all the information required for creation of the single identification document.
The bill also seeks to introduce a clause in the Law of Succession Act that could see journalists barred from reporting on succession disputes.
This would be a big blow to media freedom.
“In any proceedings or dispute relating to the administration of a deceased person’s estate, the court hearing the application or dispute may on its own motion or upon an application by any of the parties, direct that any persons, not being members of the court or parties to the case or their advocates, be excluded from the court.”
It continues: “The court may prohibit the publication of the proceedings on the matter in respect of which a direction is given.”
This provision would give parties involved in succession disputes right to decide whether or not their court battles are documented.
The bill also seeks to change the National Drought Management Authority Act and give the President express powers to appoint the authority’s chairperson without the approval of Parliament.
A clause proposing that the head of the Kenya Revenue Authority be vetted by the National Assembly before appointment by the Cabinet Secretary for the Treasury was however shelved by Majority Leader Aden Duale.
The Omnibus Bill seeks to make minimal but necessary changes to laws and is usually drafted by the Attorney General office, with input from the various ministries and other State agencies.
The government has in the past been criticised for using the Miscellaneous Amendments Bill to make changes so significant yet a separate bill would provide more opportunities for public participation and better scrutiny of the proposed changes.