Journalists required to have biometric scans in Afghanistan

Journalists working in Afghanistan must now have biometric scans — including fingerprints and retina scans — before travelling with NATO units or visiting military bases, the Canadian Press reports.

According to CP, the new policy has “not been enforced on Canadian reporters, most of whom operate out of Kandahar Airfield.”

The CP report states:

“Submitting to the biometrics scan is voluntary, but the accreditation instructions noted that ‘media who do not submit all required information will not receive a badge” and that “media interested in visiting any ISAF locations (or requesting embed with any ISAF troops) in Afghanistan are required to be accredited.’

The policy applies to all NATO bases in Afghanistan and goes part of the way to explaining why the alliance stopped accrediting journalists and issuing them camp passes at Kandahar Airfield in early March.

Reporters were given visitor’s passes, which limit their movements and make it difficult to leave and return to the base after independently interviewing local Afghans. The orange tags also require the Canadian Forces to escort journalists at all times – a practice that is currently being ignored.

In the first week of March, an Italian photographer embedded with the Canadians and at least two other journalists were subject to escorts. The Canadian military has loudly protested the policy to the airfield commander, with no affect.”

Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel and expert in access to information,
called the new security crackdown “strange and offensive” and said
Ottawa should know where the data is being stored, who has access to it
and how it will be used.