Monday, March 21, 2016

UNHCR urged to implement security features on its cards

JITRA, March 20 — The Home Ministry has urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to implement security features on its cards.

The ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim said, it was necessary to prevent UNHCR cards from being forged arbitrarily by immigrants and those claiming to be refugees.

“We at the ministry have the Immigration Department conducting constant enforcement together with the police to check whether their documents are genuine or not.

“But as of recently, there is the issue of refugees using forged UNHCR cards. So we will be working with the UNHCR to determine whether the cards are genuine or not, he told reporters after officiating at the Distinguished Service Award Ceremony of Malaysian Prisons Department North Zone 1, here today.

He was responding to media reports regarding the misuse of UNHCR cards, by using forged cards, to get jobs in the country.

In the meantime, Alwi said the dependence on foreign workers may be reduced by training and developing skills and aptitudes of prison inmates in various fields. This will help fill the void in manufacturing, agriculture and other employment sectors.

“Some 99 per cent of the 21,124 inmates who completed their rehabilitation programme outside prison from 2008 to 2015 managed to get jobs and last year’s statistics show that only 0.34 per cent went back to crime,” he said. — Bernama

UNHCR needs to review and revise its card issuance programme — Khen Han Ming 

MARCH 21 — The latest media exposé on forged UNHCR cards in Malaysia is nothing new, as issues and concerns pertaining to the forgery of UN refugee cards are also prevalent in many other countries outside Malaysia.

This, however, sheds some light into a dark realm of gross neglect and blatant disregard for the existing loopholes in the system that has been for umpteen times abused and exploited with possible involvement of corruption which has yield its toll on the problem which could be managed in a more proactive and systematic manner.

For one, genuine personal data of refugees are being leaked to syndicates by irresponsible parties and this enabled multiple cloning of bona-fide identities which could be traced back to the database.

It is a major concern in the security community that the forged refugee identity cards could pose a serious threat to both domestic and national security as the modus operandi in the black market seems to show a severe lack of integrity and control in the entire system.

We need to consider the numerous risks involved, from different angles of criminal activities, subversion to terrorism which is equally detrimental to the personal safety of the actual data owner themselves due to the mass exploitation of their personal details for use by syndicates in reproduction of these forged refugee cards.


The Malaysian authorities, on the other hand, should consider a more proactive approach in managing this issue.

Being a non-signatory member of the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, it is the prerogative of the government to stand firm on urging the UNHCR to enhance the card’s security features and possibly conduct a crackdown to weed out illegal immigrants and pressure the world body to review and revise its card issuance programme.

The UNHCR should review its entire database against the total number of cards issued, which should be jointly collaborated with Home Ministry in order to enable an integrated database for reference and conduct of due diligence checks and records available for lookup by the authorities.

After all, we’ve been hearing about all the aggressive policing measures to safeguard our country’s state of security, which include measures on documenting illegal immigrants and foreign workers. Why should fake refugees and asylum seekers be exempted from this process and treated with full immunity at the end of the day?

* Khen Han Ming is principal consultant at JK Associates.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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