Opinion: On How The Gambia National ID Cards Are Managed.
Do you own a Gambian passport? If yes, then you would know that procuring a passport is not so easy. A passport applicant should submit several authorised proofs of identity and proof of address to get a legal passport in Gambia. These legal ID cards and passports are Bio-metric.
On top, complete personal details of the applicant are collected to ensure the person’s identity. All those personal details and documents may get recorded for verification to issue a passport to the applicant. Gambian passports and ID cards are managed by SEMLEX which is a Belgian company.
According to Reuters and a few other journalistic organisations, SEMLEX was involved in quite a few unlawful activities. The said activities include securing deals by bribing and other illegal means.
Advantages of recruiting a foreign company to manage our ID cards
The advantages seem to be very limited. Gambian citizens won’t have any connection with the authorities, and it would be impossible for them to bribe for passport issuance. At the same time, one cannot just procure ID cards without following the regulations set by the company.
Disadvantages of recruiting a foreign company to manage our ID cards
Just imagine, all the ID cards are getting processed and produced by an X person. That X person can print the details of his choice on the cards to create a new identity. If SEMLEX prints such ID cards to create a person who is never a citizen of the Gambia, then it would be highly impossible to trace such a crime.
Fraudsters with such illegally issued passports and ID cards can enter the Gambia without any interference. Those fraudsters buy original documents from the authorised company, and nobody would ever suspect that the documents are forged. Fraudsters can happily do crimes anywhere in The Gambia and just escape to another country. They will then go untraceable in this very world.
Why a foreign company can be a threat to our Nation’s security?
Bio-metric data can be a picture or an illustration. For instance, the fingerprint is different for everyone in the world. Likewise, information regarding a person’s physical identities like moles, and scars are also considered as Bio-metric.
Officials and authorities who work for national security keep confidential information with them in their offices. A foreigner would be able to access such high-security facilities with ID cards issued by a company like SEMPLEX. It can lead to invasions by our enemies or a greedy neighbour country.
No data protection
Companies like SEMPLEX get access to the nation’s database to verify the details furnished by the applicant. In the process, the company can extract complete data.
A foreign private organisation handling the passports and ID cards of the whole Gambian population is a dangerous thing. For a wrong company, access to such a huge database means lucrative income by selling them to fraudsters. Moreover, the Gambian government doesn’t seem to have an oversight on the company’s process and integrity.
No nation can trust or ensure that a foreign company would protect the data from leaking. A foreign company doesn’t have any profit by protecting our data. There are high possibilities that such a company could sell or misuse the country’s database.
Watch this space for more eye-openers.
By Y.E. Jarju.
[email protected] – Gambian weapon of mass communication