Why Government stops issuing National Documents

By Yankuba Jallow

The Minister of Interior, Mr. Mai Ahmed Fatty, has told deputies that the issuing of ID Cards has been halted by the Immigration Department. Mr. Fatty said the reason for this is because government wants to avoid the fraudulent acquisition of the document and forgery.

These remarks were made in response to a question raised by the Minority Leader and Member of Niamina Dankunku at the Friday sitting of the second ordinary session of the national assembly in Banjul.

Hon Samba Jallow asked why Government was not issuing National Identity Cards since last year and the Minister of Interior said Executive approval was granted for a contract to be signed between the former government and SEMLEX, a European company engaged in the production of biometric ID cards; that this was in April, 2016. But said two months later, the same executive directive was received to terminate the said contract without justification, contrary to the legal advice of the Ministry of Justice.

In the interim, the Minister said, his Ministry has awarded a temporal contract to MSTE Trading, to produce non-biometric identity cards. He also said due to inadequate control measures, the issuance was comprised, thus allowing ineligible applicants to possess our national document.

Regarding the way forward, the Minister said that based on the advice of the technical committee, they would like to re-negotiate the contract with SEMLEX and for the technical committee to continue and supervise the execution according to the contract. He averred that this falls within the framework of his Ministry’s ambitious effort to protect the integrity of the national document, by making digital accuracy and enhanced security identity documents, key priorities.

He told the law makers that his Ministry has taken measures to avert the fraudulent acquisition of Gambia National document and to ensure that the national documents are obtained through legal sources.

‘‘An introduction of biometric solutions will substantially disable the fraudulent acquisition of identification documents,’’ he said.

In conclusion, he said there are no restrictions on the issuance of passports. He stated that any person can apply and be issued a biometric passport.

“For the machine readable passports, the measures in place are intended to make the procedure more effective” he said