A woman going abroad records her biomatric data with AFIS

Yangyel Lhaden 

In the past five years, police headquarters received 252 cases for fingerprint identification. Out of which, 81 matched those in their database of over 40,000 fingerprints. However, there were 91 that did not match and 72 fingerprints were unfit for comparison.

Fingerprint Specialist of RBP, Lieutenant Colonel Chimi Dorji said with limited data in the system it had posed challenges to match fingerprints and solving crimes. “We are looking forward to collaborating with Department of Civil Registration and Census’s (DCRC) automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) which will record fingerprints of every citizen.”

DCRC launched a pilot project under its national digital identity project on April 6 in Thimphu. It aims to capture an item of biometric data (fingerprints, iris, palm, rolled fingerprint, and facial recognition) from residents in the country.

AFIS will not only help in solving crimes but identifying fingerprints of contested documents from various agencies such as courts, National Land Commission, and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Lt Col Chimi Dorji said with a new database after the completion of the project there wouldn’t be unmatched results.

Fingerprints were found unfit for comparison mostly on legal documents stamped using a stamping pad because the fingerprint had blurred out or smudged.    

“For fingerprint identification, fingerprints should be stamped with ceramic inking pad which produces clear images of ridges and furrow  which are used for identification,” he said.

Police began collecting fingerprints in 2016 and today has more than 40,000 fingerprints recorded in its system. The data is growing every day. The data includes criminals, suspects, people going abroad for studies or work, volunteers and private firearm’s license holders, among others.

Lt Col Chimi Dorji said no two individual’s fingerprints are the same and they were permanent. Fingerprint identification distinguishes people by ridges and furrows present on fingers and palms which are unique to every individual.

He said that fingerprint identification had many other useful applications. Fingerprint identification is also used to trace criminal records, identifying those who die in accidents or during disasters. “Fingerprints can also help to compare contested documents for cases in the court.”

Before 2016, RBP recorded an individual’s fingerprint manually which was time-consuming and finding the fingerprint of suspects from hardcopies of fingerprint was impossible.

The new system would use the best technology which would make it easier to match the data.

The system that the police use is called Papillon Savunma which is tested against a National Institute of Standards and Technology and meets the requirement of AFIS. It is certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has the capacity to record one million biometric databases.

It could be used to exchange information between similar police organisation such as FBI and Interpol using the same standards.

All police information is routed through Virtual Private Network (VPN) which is off the World Wide Web for security purposes. AFIS uses VPN and currently out of 38 police stations, 23 police stations are connected through VPN.

Police have plans to establish AFIS in every police station and integrate AFIS with an iris recognition system for accurate and efficient personal identification. “With AFIS and Iris recognition it will provide full proof identification,” Lt Col Chimi Dorji said.