Botswana launches biometric refugee card

The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security has launched a new refugee management system in the form of biometric identity cards.

Launching the system earlier this week, Minister Shaw Kgathi said this stemmed from Botswana’s ratifications to monitor and control the refugees’ movement around the clock. Mr Kgathi said before the system was launched, some refugees took advantage of loopholes in the system, and would go as far as leaving the refugee without the knowledge of the commandant.

He said some would disappear for months and in some instances, years. He explained that because there were no controls or a monitoring system, the authorities would not know their whereabouts. Minister Kgathi highlighted that Botswana has the obligation to adhere to the United Nations principles of the 1951 conventions and through his ministry, the government decided to adopt the system. The system is expected to ensure the safety and security of asylum seekers and refugees.

The new system will enable the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to capture each refugee’s biometric and demographic data and help the government in running a secure and reliable database. Mr Kgathi said the system would be used to store in depth information about each refugee and urged them to refrain from providing authorities with false information, especially their names and countries of origin during registration.

He further encouraged the refugees and asylum seekers to get registered on the new system before April 30, 2017, when their current identity cards will become null and void. He also stressed that once registered and in possession of their biometric ID cards, they should carry them at all times so as to easily access all the services they need because without them, it will be difficult to get help.

Registration started on February 24. Nineteen cards were issued on the day of the launch.

Source: BOPA
Picture courtesy of: www.scottiesplace.org

6 months ago