Ugandan Police to Fight Crime with Gemalto’s Biometric Identification System, But Could it also Be Used for Govt Oppression?

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The Ugandan Police is using biometric solutions to facilitate swift crime resolution. Using Gemalto’s biometric solutions – Cogent Automated Biometric Identification System (CABIS) and LiveScan, they are going digital in crime fighting. Gremalto is a leading firm in digital security.

These solutions allow for the electronic collection, storage and processing of fingerprints, palm prints and facial captures. This would aid in identifying people and bringing offenders to justice.

The police will deploy Gemalto’s LiveScan solution to their various stations and courts nationwide. This will allow capture of biometric data, along with the subject’s picture and biographical data. Its local partner ISSUL (Institut des sciences du sport de l’ UNIL), will assist in the installation, project support and maintenance.

Gemalto’s other solution, CABIS, will enable the police to map distinct characteristics in fingerprints, palm prints and face images and use these to accelerate the matching process and establish robust evidence that will aid conviction of guilty individuals.

Uganda Police Force will also trial Gemalto’s Mobile Biometric Identification solution, to help officers capture individuals’ fingerprints using a convenient mobile device. After which Biometric information is securely submitted to the CABIS.

“Reliable biometric data is an extremely powerful tool for identifying individuals and bringing offenders to justice. Investment in Gemalto CABIS and LiveScan technology is the latest step forward in the modernization not just of Ugandan law enforcement, but our wider homeland security infrastructure.”


Muhirwa Rogers, Police Undersecretary for the Uganda Police Force.

Biometrics – the Government’s New Weapon?

While this is a welcome innovation in crime-fighting, concerns have always been raised about the potential misuse of biometrics and facial recognition tools by the government for political ambitions. And in the case Uganda, such fears won’t be without basis. This is because current president, Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, has several accusations by opposition critics and rights campaigners of
using security forces to suppress opposition to his rule.

And now with the ability of police and government agents to identify and track people, activists, journalists, and other opposition groups could be targeted by the government. For example, a well-known political organizer can be spotted, followed back home and intimidated.

So unless there are provisions and guidelines for the responsible use of these biometric information, it could just end up been another efficient tool for oppression.

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