Bangladesh to use biometrics to prevent refugee voting fraud
The Election Commission of Bangladesh has introduced a separate server to collect personal and biometric fingerprint information of people in the Rohingya ethnic minority displaced from Myanmar, writes The Daily Star.
The measure aims to avert them from receiving National Identity (NID) Cards that would allow them to vote in elections by cross-checking them against the country’s biometric NID database, following accusations that officials interfered in the process and helped refugees receive Bangladeshi passports in exchange for bribes.
Bangladesh started issuing national ID cards with biometric details (fingerprints and iris impressions) in 2016. More than half a million Rohingya refugees in the country, meanwhile, have been registered for biometric ID cards through a collaboration between Bangladesh authorities and the UNHCR.
In 2018, Bangladesh Election Commission took measures against voter fraud and election rigging by implementing optical fingerprint modules from Crossmatch. Voter identity could be confirmed smart cards and voter ID numbers, yet fingerprint biometrics were mandatory.
Based on the biometric database it already has, the government will now identity Rohingyas by reviewing and comparing biometric information it currently holds on over 1 million refugees for deduplication.
“If someone wants to get an NID card from anywhere in the country, we will cross-check their details with Rohingyas’ database,” said Abdul Baten, EC’s Director of NID operations.
In 2011, Baten claims 40,000 names were removed from the voters’ list and the server.
So far 73 questionable applications for NIDs were detected in the database. Officials found guilty of illegally helping Rohingyas “would face stern action,” Baten concluded.