Govt speaks on tra­di­tional pass­ports

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE gov­ern­ment has called on hold­ers of old pass­ports to sur­ren­der them to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs where they will be is­sued with elec­tronic pass­ports for free.

The gov­ern­ment be­gan phas­ing out the old pass­ports in 2011 and they will no longer be ac­cepted for use with ef­fect from next year.

Re­cently the gov­ern­ment said that hold­ers of old pass­ports with the pre­fixes RA, RB, SA and DA should start ap­ply­ing for elec­tronic pass­ports as part of ef­forts to im­prove the coun­try’s se­cu­rity.

The Home Af­fairs Direc­tor for Pass­port Ser­vices, Mpiko Ra­fono, told the Sun­day Ex­press that the elec­tronic pass­ports would help im­prove the coun­try’s se­cu­rity which was po­ten­tially un­der threat from peo­ple of dif- fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties who possessed the old Le­sotho pass­ports.

“Peo­ple should start ap­ply­ing for new elec­tronic pass­port start­ing from July to De­cem­ber this year be­cause we have found that some peo­ple who are not Ba­sotho are hold­ers of the old tra­di­tional pass­port,” Mr Ra­fono said.

Mr Ra­fono ex­plained that an elec­tronic pass­port, also known as bio­met­ric pass­port, looks like a nor­mal pass­port but it has an elec­tronic chip that con­tains the par­tic­u­lars of the holder.

“The elec­tronic pass­port bears the bio­met­ric de­tails of the bearer, in­clud­ing their fin­ger­prints or the iris, which are all fea­tures unique to an in­di­vid­ual.”

He fur­ther said the use of the elec­tronic pass­ports would elim­i­nate cases of cor­rup­tion where Home Af­fairs of­fi­cers have been ac­cused of ac­cept­ing bribes from un­der­serv­ing or for­eign ap­pli­cants.

“The sys­tem we use now is in­te­grated and for one to have a pass­port, they must have a birth cer­tifi­cate, an iden­tity card and then a pass­port. For one to have a birth cer­tifi­cate there are cer­tain pro­ce­dures that have to be fol­lowed and these pro­ce­dures will not al­low a per­son who is not a Mosotho to pos­sess a Le­sotho pass­port.”

The in­for­ma­tion con­tained on the elec­tronic pass­port is also con­tained in the data­base of the is­su­ing author­ity. As such, a pass­port holder can­not beat the sys­tem by mak­ing mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tions as has been the case in Le­sotho over the years.

An ap­pli­cant can­not claim that their pass­port has ex­pired when it is still valid be­cause the sys­tem will be able to in­stantly re­trieve the in­for­ma­tion from the data­base.

The use of bio­met­ric in­for­ma­tion to link a per­son to a pass­port serves the dual role of de­tect­ing coun­ter­feit or ma­nip­u­lated doc­u­ments and con­firm­ing a per­son’s iden­tity.

A re­cent re­port by ACI World­wide, an IT com­pany that pro­vides pay­ment sys­tems for the world’s lead­ing fi­nan­cial firms, says apart from im­prov­ing the de­tec­tion of forged travel doc­u­ments, a pri­mary ben­e­fit of elec­tronic pass­ports is au­to­mated pas­sen­ger clear­ance at border con­trol points.

In such sit­u­a­tions, the re­port said, a pas­sen­ger presents the travel doc­u­ment to an au­to­mated reader de­vice, which reads their bi­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and bio­met­ric data from the con­tact­less chip or a cen­tral data­base.

“Then, when the pas­sen­ger’s fa­cial, fin­ger­print or iris im­age is cap­tured in the read­ing sys­tem, the stored bio­met­ric im­age is com­pared to the one pre­sented. If the images match, then the trav­eller passes through im­mi­gra­tion with­out in­ter­act­ing with an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer,” the re­port said.

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