Categorized | National News

Mitchell Pushes National ID Card

The government is hoping to get a better an idea of who should be in The Bahamas and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Fred Mitchell is convinced pushing ahead with a national identity card does the trick.

Speaking with reporters on the issue on Tuesday, Minister Mitchell said he awaits those Cabinet discussions which will determine the “way to go.”

A national identity card would eliminate the need for several other forms of ID, including driver’s licences and national insurance cards.

“All of the interfaces with the government will be on this single card, which would be on a bar code. A handheld would be used and a person would either do the check at the border or on the streets and with one swipe, find out if you’re a Bahamian or resident of this country because there is a demand for security in terms of who is in The Bahamas,” Minister Mitchell said.

However, implementing such a card brings with it the concern of civil liberties.

“It is an intrusion of one’s right to move around with someone asking you for an identity card,” the minister acknowledged.

“I said that perhaps one of the ways around this issue is that the cards might not be mandatory, but it could be definitive in the sense that it will have information that definitively says you are a Bahamian or that you have a right to be in The Bahamas, so that when you present yourself, there is not a problem. Other documents will present a problem. So, it’s in your interest to have it.”

The government has gotten feedback from the judiciary in terms of whether the card should be mandatory, according to Mr. Mitchell.

Pushing ahead with a national identity card undoubtedly comes with a price tag.

Minister Mitchell said during his trip to Panama last week, there was a presentation by an Israeli firm, who expressed an interest in being the vendor for system.

“They said in implementing in Panama, they spent about $2 million in US currency. The card in Panama is free for the first time. If you lose it, it’s $10 and so it’s not terribly expensive per person, but all of these things are issues that have to be amply discussed by the government before we say this is the way we should go,” he said.

In terms of when the minister hopes such a card would become a reality, he said “the sooner, the better, assuming the government and the public supports it.”

Should the government agree on the idea, the next step would be to move ahead with legislation stipulating whether it is mandatory and what the terms will be.

Talk of a national identity card comes nearly a week after there was public uproar over the apprehension of a UBS executive during a routine immigration roundup.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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