COVID-19: We've created a new online space for grassroots justice groups to discuss how to adapt and respond to the pandemic.  Explore it here.

Close X
  • Join
  •     |    
  • Login
  •     |    
Log in
Join
In the Press

Digital IDs Make Systemic Bias Worse

Over 5 million Kenyans from various minority groups have to go through discriminatory processes to get ID cards. This essay in WIRED is on how a marginalized community equipped with the power of law fought back against an exclusionary digital identity system in Kenya and won.

The case was not unique; judiciaries of other nations have taken on similar cases in the past. What made the Kenyan case different was the halting of the digital scheme for the risk of excluding a segment of the population. This was a world first.

Digital IDs increase the risk of further marginalizing members of minority communities who struggle to get analog ID cards and birth certificates due to a discriminatory vetting system. Without these physical documents, they would be unable to secure a digital ID. And without a digital ID, they would be denied access to essential government services such as education, health care, and electricity.

Kenya’s digital ID scheme also comes with punitive consequences. Failure to get a child registered in the new database could see parents imprisoned for a year.

While community paralegals such as those from the Nubian Rights Forum have worked with minority groups to help them get IDs and birth certificates, this is not enough to eliminate systemic discrimination. The essay writers call for a new wave of multiethnic movements for justice that use grassroots legal empowerment to further the work by community paralegals, and shift our systems towards equality.

The essay was written by Vivek Maru, Laura Goodwin, Aisha Khagai, and Mustafa Mahmoud.


February 7, 2020 | Denis Kimathi

Region: Kenya

SHARE THIS: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Linked In Share on Pinterest