By Cecilia Okoth
Boarder communities whose nationality are in doubt will have their applications for the National Identity card subjected to thorough scrutiny and re-verification, the Internal affairs ministry has said.
In an interview with The New Vision, Pamela Ankunda, the ministry’s spokesperson said data submitted by people from boarder communities and other tribes that are said not to be indigenous to Uganda will have to be subjected to a rigorous verification exercise.
The scrutiny, she said, is aimed at ascertaining their citizenship before they can be issued with the vital document.
“It is not obvious that everyone who registered for the National ID will automatically get one,” Ankunda explained in a phone interview.
“They have to go through the naturalization process as required by the law,” she said, adding that the process is managed by the National Citizenship and Monitoring board that awards certificates after the naturalization process has taken place.
She said many people from the Maragoli community currently settled in Kiryandongo, Somalis, Rwandans and some people from the West Nile region shall undergo re-verification.
The Maragoli community now living in Kigumba in Kiryandongo district, Ntoma and other parts of Masindi district are a Kenyan tribe that left their homeland in 1958 and moved to Uganda. They have since demanded that the government comes clean on their status with regard to the ID registration exercise.
The 1995 Constitution of Uganda provides for citizenship under Articles 9 to 19, where it recognizes citizenship by birth, adoption, registration and naturalization among others. The Third Schedule to the constitution provides a list of 65 indigenous communities whose members qualify for citizenship by birth because such communities were living in Uganda as at February 1, 1926.
How does the issue come up?
Ankunda said the verification committee which comprises Local Council chairpersons, Parish Internal Security Officers (PISO), village elders among others is able to tell who came into the country at a given time or as a refugee.
“Some of them are genuine citizens but have not identified themselves evidently,” She noted.
Ankunda added that if the application form of a citizen comes through as rejected or not Ugandan, their records are sent to the verification centre in Kololo for further scrutiny. “It is upon this background that the applicants will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are Ugandans,” she said.
Government is hoping to register 18 million Ugandans above 16 years by February 27, 2015, a move that will enable the IDs to be used in the 2016 general elections.
The exercise which begun in April has since registered 12million people. Ankunda said the first batch of IDs will be issued to the citizens in September.
The ongoing mass enrolment at parish level is set to end on August 11 and will be replaced with the continuous ID registration at Sub County level.
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Gov''t to scrutinise ID applications from boarder communities