CSOs petition court to nullify IDs for elderly

Lawyer Laston Gulume (right), who represented the vulnerable people, files a case against government at the High Court in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The organisations argue that the national ID requirement violates the right to social security protection of older persons and other groups.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have petitioned court challenging the government on the use of national identification cards in order to access social services, including health.

The respondents in the case are the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, and the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA).

In the case filed before the High Court in Kampala yesterday, three CSOs asked court to declare national identification cards as the primary data source and only means of identification under Section 65(1)(j) and 66 of the registration of persons Act 2015 to access Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) benefits by older persons as exclusionary.

Social security right

They also claim the requirement violates the right to social security protection of older persons.

The organisations, who were accompanied by a group of the elderly, are Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Unwanted Witness and Health Equity and Policy Initiative.

Through their lawyers, the activists are also contesting the use of the national identification registers to prove nationality, saying it is a violation of the right to non-discrimination and the internationally recognised right to a nationality and freedom from statelessness.

According to the court documents, the activists contend that in their research findings from reports, interviews and published statements, digital national identification system excludes women and older persons thus violating their rights to social security protection, among others.

The court documents also indicate that although the government established a senior citizens grant to promote the rights and welfare of older persons, the access to the SAGE benefits has been unfairly and unjustly impeded by the use of the National Identification register.

Against use of national IDs to access public health services

The civil society organisations also claim that persons seeking to access services from public health facilities are required to present a national ID or a National Identification Number (NIN) under the digital identification system.

“That the use of National ID and NIN as the only means of identification to access health services is exclusionary and violates the constitution,” reads the court documents in part.

The activists state that the digital identification register and system operates as a centralised digital ID system relying on biometric authentication which allows for the collection of metadata, mass surveillance and targeted profiling contrary to Article 27.

 They now contend that just like with the Covid-19 vaccination policy, they are confident that allowing alternative forms of identification for people to access health services and SAGE benefits is a simple solution that fosters inclusion and efficacy of government interventions.

About NIRA


To enhance growth, development and security of all people through complete Identification and Registration.


To ensure accurate, valid and secure data with utmost integrity.





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