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City of Banjul
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Biometric passports and our security

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The choice factor for this development is deservedly apt and timely, as it will enable the country in her quest to effectively monitor criminal activities and as well put them at bay. Coming at a time when the nation is warming up to its own security standards, one area in which it will be readily handy is identity theft, which has become the easiest means by which both amateur and professional criminals maneuver in their deliberate attempts to carry out other forms of crime. 

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According to government officials, Gambians need no reminder that the peace and security of the country will never be compromised. Truth be told, the snag is that we all continue to face global security challenges such as organised and trans-boundary crimes, particularly trafficking in drugs and persons as well as international terrorism. And for government to use its capacity by leaving no stone unturned in pursuing strategies and actions to upgrade and modernise our approaches to tackle these challenges cannot be over-emphasised.


In the recent past, identity theft and fraud have become so easy that just about any group of criminals wandering away at street corners can hit on the idea, to which many can fall victim be they alive or deceased. A few more experienced criminals who have access to enough information about someone’s identity can also employ tactics to commit identity fraud that can have a direct impact on his/her personal finances. This shows that it is beginning to assume a dimension that threatens the security not only of individuals but also states at large.


For the case of The Gambia, it is therefore essential that all passport application procedures and processes are secured and nationalised to ensure effective and corrupt-free delivery to each and every Gambian who is eligible to be issued such a document. Immigration working with Africad personnel should continue to play pivotal role not only as the issuing authority but as part of the passport production. In this regard, we call on Africad to transfer the necessary skills and build capacities of the staff of the Gambia Immigration Department. 


Particular attention should be paid to the issue of accessibility, particularly for Gambians in the diaspora. Gambian embassies in major European cities such as London, Paris and Madrid must have enrollment centres for biometric passports with full authority to issue this document. Also Gambians living in the United States must have these centres and other Gambian embassies in the West African sub-region. Having recognised the passport as a security instrument, we hope, however, that all Gambians will cooperate with the new system and for the Gambia Immigration Department to follow new techniques and technologies that will allow for its effective use. 


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