Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Fingerprinting is the law: Cabinet

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) yesterday said that the Cabinet will enforce current law when issuing new photo identification cards, by collecting applicants' fingerprint information when they register for their new card.

"Our job is to enforce the policies and laws that were approved by the legislature and we will do that no matter what," Cho said. "That means that if the legislature does not approve an amendment to the Household Registration Law (戶籍法), we will begin to collect fingerprint information from applicants when they apply for the new photo ID starting July 1."

Cho made the remarks yesterday afternoon in response to Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) protest against taking fingerprint information, which she argues is a violation of human rights.

Cho said that the results of recent questionnaires conducted by the government showed that a majority of the public supported the idea of collecting fingerprint information when applying for the new IDs.

Cho said that some politicians have suggested filing an application for an interpretation of the Constitution on this issue. However, nobody has filed such an application in the eight years since Article Eight of the Household Registration Law was approved. Article Eight stipulates that all citizens over the age of 14 must submit a full set of fingerprints when applying for an ID card.

"The Cabinet is only responsible for enforcing the policies and laws. We do not ... comment on whether we agree with the policy or not," Cho added.

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday that new IDs will not be issued if applicants do not give their fingerprint information when the Ministry of the Interior begins to retire old IDs and replace them with the newly-designed ones on July 1.

"Everything is written down in black and white in the Household Registration Law and we will definitely follow it, if an amendment of the law is not approved by the legislature before July 1," Hsieh said.

The premier said that since Article Eight of the Household Registration Law is controversial, it has never been carried out, despite being authorized in 1997. The Cabinet has proposed an amendment to the law, but the legislature does not support the Cabinet's proposal.

"If anybody has a problem about this matter, they should confront the legislature and ask lawmakers to make a change. The Cabinet is merely enforcing the law as well as the policies," Hsieh said.

Lu yesterday held a news conference in her capacity as the convener of the Presidential Office's Human Rights Advisory Committee and stressed the committee's opposition to the inclusion of fingerprints on the new ID cards. Lu said the committee opposed fingerprinting on the grounds that it violated the Constitution and was a violation of human rights.

Lu said she had relayed the committee's stance to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Monday. In response, Chen issued an instruction to the Executive Yuan "to take care of the issue appropriately," Lu said.

additional reporting by Huang Tai-lin

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