Uhuru backs law change to start listing of Kenyans’ DNA


President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The government is now free to collect data on Kenyans’ DNA and physical location of their homes including satellite details during registration of persons.

This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s approval of amendments to the Registration of Persons Act that has included the two to the list of requirements needed at the national people’s registry.

Adults applying for documents such as IDs will be required to provide additional information about their location, including land reference number, plot number or house number.

The ministry is also seeking to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates in the registration of persons, enabling the tracking of their location via satellite.

Before the law change, the state required people to provide just their place of residence and postal address.

On personal identification, the State has widened the requirements to include Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in digital form, voice waves and earlobe pattern.

“Insert biometric data … means unique identifiers or attributes including fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves and Deoxyribonucleic Acid in digital form,” reads the amendments to Registration of Persons Act.

Previously, the state required finger and thumb impressions or toe impressions for those with missing fingers and thumbs.

Kenya will follow in the footsteps of United Kingdom (UK), which in 1995 launched the national DNA database to allow the police to store DNA profiles.

In the UK, the DNA profiles are collected from crime scenes and suspects arrested by police for a recordable offence. It had collected more than six million profiles by 2016.

In Kenya, the responsibility of collecting DNA samples will rest with the Registrar of Persons.

DNA registries are increasingly being used in the fight against crime with police using them to identify criminals and prove their presence in crime scenes.

The new law allows the creation of the National Integrated Identity Management System, which will ensure that all IDs, refugee cards, birth and death certificates as well as driving licences and passports are printed and distributed for collection from a central location.

The new system will be a single source of personal information of all Kenyans and registered foreigners.