SIM cards refugee IDs
OPM criticizes UCC's directive to ban registration of SIM cards using refugee IDs. File Photo

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) criticizes UCC’s directive to ban registration of SIM cards using refugee IDs

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has questioned the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) directive to ban registration of SIM cards using refugee IDs and other documents without first seeking their consent.

“We were surprised that UCC did not have the courtesy to reach out to OPM when allegations were reported and went ahead to issue the public statement announcing the statement,” Julius Mucunguzi, the head of communications in OPM stated.

Earlier this month, UCC suspended the registration of all SIM cards using refugee IDs from Office of the Prime Minister due to allegations of increased forgery.

UCC’s executive director, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi indicated that the decision to ban the use of these documents for registration was taken after thorough investigations and they found out majority were using fake papers for registration.

However, OPM insisted that identification cards are valid and authentic, adding that they are only issued to those granted refugee status by the Refugee Act 2016.

Also, OPM implies that the documents are issued after consulting with the Uganda National Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and that all cases of suspected frauds have been reported to police of recent.

“We read with dismay, a statement attributed to the Uganda Communications Commission dated October 7 2019, in which they announced a suspension of SIM card registration using REFUGEE IDs issued to them by the Office of the Prime Minister on account of alleged forgery of the same by wrong elements,” OPM statement read.

It added,

“OPM identity documents are issued using UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) robust biometric information system which is tested and used globally with hardly any chances of manipulation or fraud to bring into disrepute the integrity of the register of the refugees.”

According to Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the head of communications in OPM, UCC should take it upon themselves to verify each individual’s documents to ensure that they register only those who qualify rather than doing away with the whole process.

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He added that they have embarked on working with government security agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecute all those criminals who have fake papers.

“When a criminal forges your document, you don’t blame the victim. We have seen police arrest people with forged identity cards of other public bodies. OPM is interested in getting culprits to be prosecuted according to the law,” Mucunguzi added.

By John Dalton Kigozi