Passports Are Travel Documents & Can’t Be Alternatives For Identification- Gov’t Moves To Register Ugandans Abroad For National IDs

Passports Are Travel Documents & Can’t Be Alternatives For Identification- Gov’t Moves To Register Ugandans Abroad For National IDs

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Ugandans living in the diaspora will be able to register online for new or renewal of National Identity Cards (IDs), when the mass enrollment for the exercise commences in June this year, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, has said.

Government has commenced the processes leading to mass enrollment and renewal of IDs, with the recruitment of a workforce to man the exercise slated for this month.

Minister Muhoozi, who was responding to MPs’ concerns over the forthcoming exercise, said the ministry will issue adverts for recruitment on 15 February and that shortlisting, interviewing, and hiring are expected to be complete by 30 March 2024.

“The new system provides for online pre-registration and registration at embassies. National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) will carry out outreach exercises in selected countries with populations of Ugandans exceeding 10,000,” said Muhoozi during the plenary sitting chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, on Wednesday 14 February 2024.

To mitigate the chances of foreigners who flout the process and register for Ugandan IDs, Muhoozi said the relevant security officials such as Government Security Officers (GISO), and Professional Intelligence Officers (PISO), will be deployed.

“The district citizenship verification committees are being put in place to scrutinize persons whose citizenship is in doubt. I call on the extra vigilance of the public because this is at times compromised,” he added. 

Muhoozi clarified that passports are primarily travel documents and cannot serve as identification substitutes. He underscored that possession of a national ID is a prerequisite for obtaining a passport.

“Individuals with valid IDs will not be mandated to obtain new ones during the mass enrollment process. Renewals will be facilitated upon request, with all necessary arrangements in place,” he said.

Muhoozi also noted that individuals below the age of 16 will receive National Identification Numbers (NINs) without physical ID cards, ensuring continuous enrollment for this demographic.

Regarding the issuance process, Muhoozi highlighted the complexities involved in verifying citizenship, necessitating a thorough review before National IDs can be issued.

“While driving permits are issued instantly, the verification of citizenship complicates the ID issuance process, requiring meticulous scrutiny of familial ties and lineage,” he elaborated.

Additionally, Muhoozi confirmed that individuals of Rwandan origin, as recognized by the 1995 constitution, are eligible to obtain national IDs. He also assured that Muslim women would be permitted to wear head coverings by international guidelines during the mass enrollment exercise.

On the concerns for people with disabilities such as those without fingers, the minister said other biometrics such as iris, and face will be captured, to allow every eligible Ugandan get an ID.

Kiryandongo District Woman Representative, Hon. Helen Kahunde, had expressed concern over the fate of the Maragoli people not yet recognised in the constitution. Muhoozi said he had been guided that in the meantime, the Maragoli can acquire citizenship by registration as an interim measure so that they get IDs and passports.

For Ugandans of Rwandan origin, Muhoozi said they are recognised as citizens of Uganda in the constitution and will be enrolled as per the guidelines of the constitution.

The minister warned against using IDs as collateral by money lenders saying it is illegal and should be punishable. He mentioned that the National Identification and Registration Authority is in the process of securing and improving the verification of cards and letters by third parties, who seek to determine the identity of persons, which will render the need for retaining IDs redundant. 

“The regulatory body must take action against lenders who unlawfully retain IDs. Citizens should refrain from allowing such abuses by reporting such incidents to the authorities,” he said. an accessible web community

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