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Biometric ID, prison programs questioned at federal, state levels in Pakistan

Biometric ID, prison programs questioned at federal, state levels in Pakistan

A federal ombudsman in Pakistan is saying that “proper functioning” biometric ID systems must be installed all jails in that nation’s northwest province, abutting Afghanistan.

As the provincial government considers addressing the demand, it could do worse than look at how the federal government itself has managed digital national ID cards.

More than 8,000 of them are being reviewed for fraud, and 181 of them have been cancelled. The program’s inclusivity has been questioned. And in at least one case, vocal opponents of the government have been threatened with revocation of their biometric IDs.

Biometric IDs have been deployed in 14 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or PK, province jails, according to reporting by the Pakistan Observer. It is unclear if the ombudsman is charging that some systems are not working and/or if there are other jails that do not have them at all.

At the same time, the ombudsman has said the province’s entire justice system needs to have a common interface for the prisons management information system. The software records fingerprints of prisoners as well as jail transfers, medical histories, crime details, legal histories among other data.

Officials are expanding 12 jails to house 7,000 additional inmates, according to the Observer, and there are plans to add a new jail in each PK district.

Meanwhile, news publisher ProPakistani is reporting that 181 non-nationals – people whose application for a digital national ID should have been rejected as fraudulent – were stripped of their document.

Another 8,152 people nationwide with IDs are being investigated by the National Database and Registration Authority, according to the publication.

The registration authority is looked into 279 incidents occurring during the year ending July 30, 2022, that allegedly involved illegal processing of ID cards. Forty-three government employees reportedly have been “removed from service” as a result of the investigation.

There is a question about how the federal government approves and removes IDs. ProPakistani says the program has been halted while it is reviewed in court.

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