#Providenciales, March 8, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – It is not legal to demand or expect fingerprints as a form of identification in the Turks and Caicos Islands, yet, fingerprints are now being required in the application process for Police Records or Character Certificates at the Records Office of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
A few residents have expressed concern to Magnetic Media about the new measure, due to take effect on Monday March 11, which seems to have caught even elected officials off guard.
There is increasingly, the challenge of forged documents within the Turks and Caicos, and this ‘fingerprint requirement’ may be yet another effort to outwit the devious and illegal practice of creating fake police records, however, it is not lawful and the Police Commissioner, James Smith appears to have authorized a serious measure in breach of the law.
It is so serious in fact, that when the Governor’s Office notified the general public in March 2018 of the need of biometrics (including fingerprints) in order to apply for British Passports, there were clear explanations and procedures also outlined in order to assure applicants that their rights to privacy and protection were being respected.
The notice from H.E. said: The service does not store biometrics on the equipment, but sends the information directly, within seconds of enrolment, to the UK via a secure link. Once received safely in the UK, all details are immediately deleted from the equipment in the Governor’s Office…. If an application for British nationality is successful, and upon completion of the Citizenship Ceremony, biometrics will be deleted from the United Kingdom’s biometric database.”
The United Kingdom, in the notice dated March 7, 2018 is careful not to overstep human rights while ensuring its country and citizens are protected. There seems to be a different standard in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Public Notice, shared with Magnetic Media yesterday in part says, “Starting on Monday March 11, 2019 all persons applying for a Police Record can have their fingerprints taken at the Stanley Williams Barracks on Old Airport Road, Providenciales… After completing the fingerprint process, applicants will then apply for the police record by visiting the Police Records Office at Police Headquarters.”
Sure, it was last year, an illegal drivers’ license ring was busted up and in recent years, there have been several arrests and resignations at the Ministry of Border Control and Immigration related to ‘home-spun’ work permits. On February 25, government was due to begin electronic birth certificates brought on largely because of the prevalence of forgeries.
Still, residents say the measure makes an already tedious process even more exhaustive and add to that, it is not legal.
Police Records or Character Certificates are powerful documents, used to secure jobs and for travel into countries like the United States.
Magnetic Media reached out to several attorneys on the issue. It was confirmed to us that fingerprints are not legal. One attorney says he has written to the Police Commissioner.
Our request to Police for explanation of the sudden and unlawful requirement remained unanswered up to news publication time.