EMN National Contact Point
for the Slovak Republic

EMN National Conference The Use of Technology in Identity Verification, 1 June 2017, Oslo, Norway

02 August 2017

On 1 June 2017, EMN National Contact Point for Norway organised the EMN National Conference entitled 'The Use of Technology in Identity Verification'. Among the speakers of the conference were experts from state administration, research institutes, academia, as well as EU institutions.

The conference was opened by State secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security in Norway, Fabian Stang, who welcomed the participants. He was followed by a presentation of the representative of the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons in Belgium (CGRS), Kris de Groote, currently dealing with the topic of „new media“. In his presentation he focused on the challenges and possibilities of using searches on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as a possible supporting evidence to verify or establish identity of the asylum seekers.

In the second presentation, Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, Research Director at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) introduced the research on ethical, legal and humanitarian perspectives on the digital migrant, focusing on the authorities’ examination of migrants’ electronic devices in their efforts to verify or establish their identity. Recently the term „digital migrant“ was coined, referring to a person migrating and using the relevant digital technologies to get necessary information. Further she also mentioned the development of the new apps to help refugees. The second part of her presentation focussed on issues such as how can the information from the mobile and other devices as a „specific type of biometric data“ serve the purpose of the asylum procedure. These are mostly the cases when identification is needed and no ID or other documents are available. She also highlighted the necessity to take always the data and privacy protection into account.

The representative of the European Commission, Phillippe Van Triel, previously working on Schengen Information System of the 2nd Generation (SIS II) has introduced the new ideas in the field of EES (entry-exit system) as well as the preparatory works on ETIAS (European Travel Information System) during his presentation. This system is in its essence very similar to the ESTA used in USA.

Kathrine Qvenild from Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), presented the new project developed due to the need for the exchange of biometrics and data sharing, as well as interconnecting the national system in Norway with e.g. the National Police Immigration Service (NPIS) and other institutions. This new project is a result of the common initiative of the the National Police Immigration Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway and Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and should be implemented until 2018.

After the break, Bronwen Manby from London School of Economics, an independent consultant in the field of human rights with the focus on African states and author of many studies for UNHCR, presented the discrepancies in between the legal system of these states as a heritage of the former colonies. Problems with issuance of the relevant documents that prove the nationality persist. Despite the obligation to issue birth certificates for every minor born on the territory of each state, the reality differs significantly. UNHCR data show that e.g. in Ethiopia, in average, this number reaches only to 7%. Similar situation occurs with issuing marriage certificates, confirmations on adoption, death certificates and so on. High official but also unofficial (and thus illegal) fees and insufficient competency of the responsible authorities are also an issue. The situation in former British colonies is in this regard even more complicated taken into account the case-law system. Situation with the identification is complicated also by the disunity of inconsistency of formats of the documents issued within one country. This issue remains open also due to the numbers or stateless person remains high.

Per Haddal, an expert for verification of the authenticity of documents from Norwegian Identity Centre, focused during his presentation, on practical examples of falsification of documents that he encountered during work and other relevant aspects in this field.

The conference was concluded by a presentation of Sveinung Hilmy Wetteland, special police officer from the National Police Immigration Service’s (NPIS) forensic unit, responsible for examination of the identification documents. He presented the work of the NPIS team and its best practice. NPIS as a special task force of the Norwegian Police  is responsible for the registration of migrants, their identification and last but not least executing the expulsion orders in case of the asylum claims are rejected.

This article was prepared based on the available conference material and reports. More information about the conferece, video recording and presentations as well as the programme are available on the website of EMN NCP for Norway.

EMN Coordinator for Slovakia

International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Office in the Slovak Republic

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EMN Coordinator for the EU

European Comission - Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs 

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