Citizenship laws under review

January 11, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 11- The Government has formed a 14-member taskforce to review the current laws on immigration and registration of persons and come up with comprehensive citizenship legislation.

Speaking during its inauguration on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang\’ urged the taskforce to ensure it submits its recommendations within six months.

"Their mandate is to scrutinise the Immigration Act, registration of persons and registration of births so that we can have a law that will take us into the future as is outlined in the Vision 2030. The Constitution has dealt with it.  Now we have to put up the laws that will be used by the practitioners in the day-to-day running," he said.

The chairman of the taskforce Mumo Matemo said his team would hold public hearings as well as receive memorandum from Kenyans locally and those in the Diaspora in a bid to capture issues Kenyans face during registration processes.

"We are required to identify the challenges and gaps in existing legislation so that we can go to aligning fully the legislation with the current Constitution," he said.

Before his appointment, Mr Matemo, a lawyer, was the Commissioner of Customs with the Kenya Revenue Authority and has had an illustrious career in the civil service that has spanning 29 years.

Mr Kajwang urged the taskforce which also includes members of the private sector and various government departments, to urgently address the issuance of work permits as well as registration of overseas citizens who would like to get Kenyan identification documents.

"We should never promote statelessness because it is not good for anyone or the world, because a stateless person owes responsibilities to nobody, because you remind him every day that he is not a Kenyan and you have no record of him, that is a dangerous state of affairs," the Minister said.

He also warned ministry officials against victimising applicants saying that under the new Constitution the ministry could end up facing thousands of litigations.

At the same time, the minister expressed concern over the shortage of the new third-generation Identity cards due to a delay in the re-advertising of the tender.

The Ministry of Immigration has not issued new national identity cards for the last six months because of a tussle between Minister Otieno Kajwang and Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura.

Mr Muthaura has also indefinitely frozen the issuance of work permits and citizenship certificates.

Mr Kajwang\’ recently wrote to the President, Prime Minister and Mr Muthaura over the issue but no action has been taken yet.

"It\’s two years since the tender was cancelled and still no steps have been made in the direction of re-advertising. We have had many meetings. I have asked for some progress, and the Cabinet has been pushing but nothing seems to be going on. And I stand by what I said previously," he said

The company has been printing identity cards since 1995 and owns all rights and artworks of the current identity cards.

The ministry issued a tender last year asking for bids for the third-generation identity cards but it was cancelled in April by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.

The Minister said the new ID cards would have more security details and said that some information which would be included on the new IDs could only be viewed through an electronic device, making it difficult to forge them.

The IDs will also now have colour photographs if the tender for its production will be granted.


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