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Minimum age for acquiring ID to be lowered to 14

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security is working to lower the minimum age for obtaining an identity document (ID) from 16 to 14.

This will be implemented once the civil registration and identification bill is passed by parliament.

Home affairs deputy minister Daniel Kashikola tabled the bill in the National Assembly last week.

“This move will enable children in schools to get IDs early enough before they sit for their national examinations. This is also done with the foresight that other biometrics such as iris and facial recognition, which are possible at a younger age, will be integrated into our identity management system,” Kashikola said.

The IDs are currently issued to Namibian citizens, permanent residents, and refugees aged 16 and above.

However, Kashikola said the bill expands the scope to cover foreigners in Namibia on permits longer than 12 months.

However, the IDs must not be confused with the conferment of citizenship, he said.

“Even the permanent residents of Namibia have IDs but are not Namibian citizens.”

Kashikola said the determination of citizenship remains within the purview of article 4 of the Constitution, read with the Namibian Citizenship Act of 1990.

The new legislation also provides for the appointment of the registrar general and the designation of registrars of births, marriages, and deaths, who will also serve as commissioners of oath.

“Information provided for the purpose of civil registration and identity management will be provided under oath. This means, when one lies under oath, they will be committing the common law offence of perjury and will be persecuted,” he said.

He said home affairs will be able to assist clients instead of sending them to police stations to commission forms and certify documents.
The bill also makes provision for the age determination committee, a statutory body to address fraud.

“Some people change their dates of birth when they want to retire or when they do not want to retire. Sometimes, the change of age is just to obtain a certain benefit and then change back to the correct age later,” Kashikola said.

He said the age determination committee will have the authority to determine a person’s age using the documents and information that are readily available.

In addition, the bill will enable the certification of information and authentication, as well as access to information on the population register for all sectors, including the private sector.

Currently, the Identification Act limits the sharing of information from the population register to the public sector only.

“Because of this statutory limitation, we have seen the private sector create ‘mini population registers’ wherein their clients’ information is stored.

“This information includes biometrics. This is unfortunately done without any legislative framework to offer protection for the information so collected and stored,” Kashikola said.