Malaysian Gov’t Considering Biometric Refugee Registration to Counter Islamic State Threat

Authorities in Malaysia are urging the United Nations’ refugee agency to share its data on refugees in the country.

As Channel News Asia reportsMalaysian Gov't Considering Biometric Refugee Registration to Counter Islamic State Threat, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan framed the issue as a security concern pertaining to the Islamic State, with authorities worried that militants have slipped into the country through the UNHCR’s refugee program.

The UNHCR has been collecting refugees’ data and issuing them biometric ID cards, and has been urging government authorities to embrace such measures for the effective management of refugee populations for years, but thus far the Malaysian government has not itself participated in such processes. Now, Minister Jazlan says that the UN agency is not cooperating with the government on a refugee vetting process to which it has already agreed, and that his government is considering proceeding to collect refugees’ biometrics itself, directly from the refugee camps.

It isn’t clear what has caused the impasse. The UNHCR has been increasingly vocal about the benefits of biometric identification of refugees in recent months and years, with a top official having recently made a case for its applications in countering terrorism at a meeting of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. The head of the UNHCR also reiterated his call for biometric refugee registration last week after visiting Bangladeshi camps accommodating large numbers of Rohingya Muslims, the same ethnic group that has been fleeing in large numbers to Malaysia, due to persecution in Myanmar.

Source: Channel News Asia

July 31, 2017 – by Alex Perala