Belize PM says biometric passport system broken, urges immediate replacement

Belize PM says biometric passport system broken, urges immediate replacement

The Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceño, has said putting in place a new biometric passport system is becoming a matter of “urgency” for the country due to the likely failure of the current system in place.

News Five quoted PM Briceño as saying it had become practically impossible to manage the current biometric system because the identity management business of the original service provider, 3M Technologies, is no longer operational, leaving the system in a state of dysfunction.

3M’s Identity Management business was acquired by Gemalto back in 2017.

All innovative ways by the Immigration Ministry to ensure the system works, the report notes, have been futile because not only are the licenses for data capture machines and biometric algorithms unavailable, but also equipment such as signature scanners, fingerprint scanners, and cameras has become obsolete.

The PM told News Five that Cabinet had approved the new project although there was yet to be a timeframe for its implementation. He underlined however that because the old system is “crashing,” it will have to be rapid.

“Well, we don’t know about the timeframe,” he admitted. “We need to get that as soon as possible. The present system is crashing. There are no licenses, no more licenses to keep that system going. The equipment is antiquated. We can’t get parts for them, so we have to do that as soon as possible. Hopefully, we could get it very shortly. I don’t want to say a timeline. I don’t want to speak out of turn. But it is something that has to be done with urgency,”

The PM blamed the previous government for deciding to “play politics” with the passport issue rather than working for the general good of the nation.

He gave assurances about the security of the new system they are looking to put in place. “It is going to be so much more secure… Having to get a new system is not a luxury. It is a must. It is a necessity,” he told News Five.

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