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National Id Card Plans Go Before Cabinet

Reader poll

Are you in favour of a national ID card to combat illegal immigration?

  • Yes, I am in favour of a National ID card 51%
  • No, I am NOT in favour of a National ID card 49%

253 total votes.

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

IMMIGRATION Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday a proposal on the introduction of a National Identification Card is now before Cabinet for its consideration.

Speaking with The Tribune, Mr Mitchell said the question of whether or not to implement a National ID card is not up to him, but has to be decided by the whole Cabinet.

“There is a discussion point paper now before Cabinet for them to consider. These recommendations have been made in response to complaints from the public. So we have to wait and see what Cabinet decides.”

Mr Mitchell’s comments came after random road checks in the past two months resulted in almost 200 people being arrested and taken to the Detention Centre.

Last September  National Security Minister Bernard Nottage said “the time has come” for the country to consider the introduction of such a card, considering the Bahamas’ long-standing illegal migration problem.

The implementation of a national identity card was one of 52 suggestions at last month’s Crime Listening Forum. The official government response labelled this idea: “An excellent suggestion that is currently being reviewed for possible implementation.”

Said Dr Nottage: “We think the time has come for us to consider the introduction of an identity card where we can – if people are required to carry it, we will know who is a citizen and who is not a citizen, and who is here illegally and who is not here illegally.

“This would cause them and us to be more aware of the size of the problem that we have and hopefully to be able to bring some positive action to dealing with this whole problem of people who are in our country, illegally – this question of trafficking in persons, human smuggling, and, of course, enables us to be able to deal with them.”

Mr Mitchell said the technology for a National ID Card is in place, but national ID Cards brings up the issue of civil liberties.

“The technology is certainly available to do it, particularly since you already either have to get a passport or a national insurance number. So the technology and the infrastructure is there to do it, but the question of whether we go that route is a matter for the Cabinet and not for me, but there is certainly going to be recommendations made given the way the pubic is complaining about this issue and some of the measures may be far reaching and will require new thinking on the part of Bahamians on how we conduct our business and the civil liberties which we enjoy,” he said.

“To me the most intrusive one is the question of ‘do you have the right to be here’ and ‘how you prove that right’, you can only prove it if you have a document which says you have a right to be here. So people will get used to the idea of carrying around some documentation that shows you have a right to be here so when these immigration checks take place, it shows you are a Bahamian citizen or you have a right to be in the Bahamas.”

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