Oguna gave assurance that the information collected will be held securely.
Amnesty warningBut Oguna downplayed Amnesty International’s warning, saying the collection of personal identifiers is important for planning. “The ID card numbers are requested for purposes of verification and authentication,” he said. He explained that the reason the question is in the census questionnaire is because there are individuals masquerading as Kenyans who got their documents through the backdoor. “Within the Dadaab refugee camp, for example, there are people registered as refugees and also registered as Kenyans. This process is meant to weed out people with fake IDs.” Oguna asked Kenyans not to hold back information on these identifiers. “When asked for the ID and passport (number), please provide it. It is not meant to monitor your activities. It is meant to ensure those with IDs or passport are Kenyans. For those without, arrangements are made for them to be provided,” said Oguna. Amnesty had said the collection of this personal information by enumerators seemed to mix up responsibilities of the Department of Immigration and the Registration of Persons, and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Oguna gave assurance that the information collected will be held securely. “Any data will be with the KNBS. It will be confidential and used for the purpose intended, which is basically planning. So, provide accurate information. This has happened so far and we continue to thank Kenyans for that.” Oguna also said there is no need for Kenyans to travel upcountry to participate in the census. “It is not a political exercise. This is a statistical exercise meant to enable the Government to provide better services. So those calling upon their people to go back home and be counted should not do that,” he said. The census, which is on its third day today, kicked off on Saturday. Road blocks have also been mounted along main highways where enumerators will count those on transit. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i issued a directive for bars, entertainment joints and other business premises to be closed by 5pm in order for Kenyans to be home on time for the counting. But the Civil Society Reference Group has criticised the directive, saying it infringes on people’s constitutional rights. The group, in a statement, said the directive is not based on any known law and must therefore be treated as a request. “The country is not in a State of Emergency to warrant the kind of fear being instilled in the people as the exercise that started on August 24 and will continue until August 31 is undertaken,” read the statement signed by the group’s convener Suba Churchill.