Lawyers urge Antiguans to reject national fingerprint database plans

Antiguans are being urged by local, regional and international lawyers to reject government plans to make a national fingerprint database available for broader government use.

Last week it was announced that Antigua’s government will debate a plan to implement a system for capturing, digitizing and archiving citizens’ fingerprints during the electoral process. The measure is intended to give several government agencies access to the national biometric database.

According to a report by the Antigua Observer, the attorney’s say that the measure is unjustifiable, an invasion of privacy and likely an initiative coming outside the country,

Barbados-based attorney and political activist Dr David Comissiong commented, “Fingerprints are captured for persons who run afoul of the law. I can see no compelling reason as to why that needs to be extended across the entire population.”

US-based attorney Ralph Bowen called the policy alarming and said that it lacks an overarching reason or rationale for “that level of invasion into our privacy and personal space”.

Last summer, Dr Comissiong won a court challenge against a proposed airport fingerprinting legislation in Barbados. The plan to fingerprint air and sea passengers, including citizens, was ruled unconstitutional.

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