Support to the principle of Biometric Identification Card in Mauritius

Legal authorities of Mauritius confirmed the validity of the biometric ID card and have rejected calls that were made in front of the Court. The Law Lords also corrected an inconsistency in the judgment at first instance to the Supreme Court. The Law Lords believe that the records of fingerprints and data constitute a violation of the law relating to privacy and property as stated in Article 9 of the Constitution. However, such interference is justified under Article 9 under the rule on public order and protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals. Reasoning that joints the Supreme Court opinion.

The Privy Council noted that Article 3 of the Constitution, which relates to the rights and freedoms of the individual, requires a broad interpretation. It can create rights which are, first, non-existent. The Law Lords emphasize that the fingerprint records engages in no way respect for the privacy of citizens and does not give rise to any presumption of guilt.

The Privy Council, however, notes that the lack of a database could be an obstacle for the government in its fight against identity theft. But this was neither raised in front of the Supreme Court or on appeal. The Law Lords took the opportunity to correct an editorial inconsistency in the Supreme Court statement.

The argument relating to the limitation of the freedom of movement mentioned in Article 15 of the Constitution was also rejected by the Law Lords who consider that only persons authorized by law, which means the policemen, can require the production of the biometric identity card.

There are still several thousand Mauritians (10% of the adult population) who have not yet completed the formalities for obtaining the identity card and the deadline was set at 31 March 2017. But it remains yet a legal obstacle to settle before on certain aspects of the biometric identity card “that would not be consistent with the principles of a democratic state.” Common agreement between the opposition and government on the use of the new ID card is about to be negotiated. But a new opposition could be presented, some opponents arguing that the way in which consent to this administrative formality has been requested is of an “oppressive” character. The option of an appeal in front of the European Court of Human Rights or to the United Nations is understudied.

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