Sat, Jun 11, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Fingerprinting for ID cards halted

INKY ISSUE The Council of Grand Justices said people won't have to provide their fingerprints to get a new ID until the council issues an interpretation of the law

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Judicial Yuan president Weng Yueh-sheng, left, and other members of the Council of Grand Justices leave a meeting yesterday in which they passed an interim order to suspend the collection of fingerprint data for new national ID cards.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

Fingerprints will not be collected when people apply for their new national identification cards until the Council of Grand Justices issues an interpretation of the Household Registration Law (戶籍法), an official said yesterday.

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Fan Kuang-chun (范光群) held a press conference yesterday on behalf of the council to announce the justices' decision to issue an interim order temporarily suspending the fingerprint policy until the council can rule on the matter.

According to Articles 8-2 and 8-3 of the law, applicants must provide their fingerprints when applying for the new photo ID cards, due to be issued starting July 1.

"We will follow the grand justices' interim order. That means the collection of fingerprints will be temporarily suspended," said Cabinet spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰).

Cho said those applying for the new cards will receive the old version until the grand justices issue an interpretation.

However, "If the grand justices decide that the fingerprinting policy must be carried out anyway, they will have to re-apply for the new cards and provide their fingerprints. If the justices decide against the policy, these people will still have to apply for the new cards but their fingerprints will not be taken," Cho said.

The Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus complained that the fingerprint requirement violates both human rights and the Constitution. The caucus filed a request with the Council of Grand Justices for an interpretation on May 30.

According to Fan, 14 grand justices met yesterday morning. At around 1pm they decided to ask the Cabinet to suspend the policy.

According to Cho, there are two possible scenarios.

If the grand justices say the two articles violate the Constitution and should be amended, the law will be returned to the legislature for an amendment and new photo ID cards will not be issued before the amendment is passed.

If grand justices say the two articles are fine, then the fingerprinting policy will be resumed.

"Now that the interim order has been given, I think most people won't rush to apply for their photo ID cards, so I don't think the impact will be humongous," Cho said.

By law, every citizen older than 14 years of age must apply for a national ID card, providing their fingerprints and a new head-shot photo taken within the past six months. The photo has to be in a square format, with a white background and the face uncovered. Each of the new-format photos costs approximately NT$200.

Asked whether the government is ready to hear complaints from those who have already had their pictures taken, Interior Minister Su Jia-chyan (蘇嘉全) did not answer the question directly.

"I believe that the grand justices will come up with a final ruling soon," Su said.

"In the meantime, I urge the public not to apply for the new cards before receiving an official notice from us," he said.

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