UN Will Fund Biometric Voter ID--In Yemen

By Michael W. Chapman | August 15, 2013 | 4:43pm EDT

RealScan-D biometric scanner, made by Suprema, Inc. (Photo: Suprema, Inc.)

(CNSNews.com) – Biometric fingerprint scanners are scheduled to be used in the 2014 presidential election in Yemen.

The South Korean company Suprema, Inc. announced this week that it had won a contract from the Yemeni government to provide about 4,800 of its RealScan-D live scanners for the election, which is expected to take place in February of next year.  Money provided through the United Nations Development Program is paying for the scanners.

“Yemen has come one step closer to adopting democracy and is now preparing for the new presidential elections by strategically investing the funds from the UNDP,” said Suprema in a press release. The company’s president, James Lee, said: “The Arab Spring was the advent of free election and the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East. I believe there will be many more voter registration projects to follow.”

The RealScan-D devices work by capturing a person’s fingerprint or palm-print (or both) and storing that image and biometric data. Similar scanners can also capture signatures and photos and identification cards of the persons registering to vote and store that information in their data file.

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“Live Scan fingerprinting refers to the technology used by law enforcement agencies and private facilities to capture fingerprints and palm prints electronically, without the need for the more traditional method of ink and paper,” states Suprema. “Based on cutting-edge optical & biometric technologies, Suprema developed range of live scanners for single, dual, ten-fingerprints and palm print capturing, which are used for law enforcement, border control, national ID as well as for commercial applications.”

The company also says that the scanners can be used voter registration, driver’s license, banking, social welfare, and a National Population Register.

Yemen, a Muslim-dominant country on the southwest border of Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea and just across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, is currently headed by President Abd Rabuh Mansur. He was elected in early 2007 following a tumultuous 2006 election involving civil unrest, protests, and violence that forced the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down.

Yemen is rife with human rights abuses, and is peppered with Islamist radicals, including al Qaeda terrorist cells.

In addition to the president who serves a 7-year term, the Yemeni government has a bicameral Parliament, with 111 seats in its Shura Council and 301 seats in its House of Representatives.

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