Eritrea: The identity number that appears on the Eritrean passport, including the meaning of its digits; prevalence of passports fraudulently obtained by non-Eritreans (2017-December 2018) [ERI106214.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

For information on Eritrean passports, see Response to Information Request ERI104539 of September 2013. In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Eritrean Consulate General in Toronto stated that the sample of the Eritrean passport attached to this Response is valid (Eritrea 3 Dec. 2018a).

1. Identity Number in the Eritrean Passport

The Eritrean Consulate General representative stated that the identity number appearing on the Eritrean passport corresponds to the "Eritrean Citizenship Card" number [or "Eritrean National Identity Card" (Eritrea 3 Dec. 2018b) or "ER_ID" (Eritrea 3 Dec. 2018a)] (Eritrea 30 Nov. 2018). According to the same source, the identity number appears on every passport, except for those of Eritreans who are under 18 years old (Eritrea 3 Dec. 2018a). For information on Eritrean National Identity Cards, see Response to Information Request ERI106176 of September 2018.

2. Fraudulent Passports

Information on fraudulent Eritrean passports available to non-Eritreans was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The representative of the Eritrean Consulate General mentioned that passports issued after 2010 are all "machine-readable and difficult to counterfeit," that the holder's photo and personal data are "digitally printed and embedded into the page," that they "cannot be removed or erased," and that the "data information of the passport holder is included in the barcode" (Eritrea 26 Nov. 2018). The same source also stated that an "'optically variable ink'," that changes colour under different lighting, shows "ERI" vertically four times on the top right, the map of Eritrea in the middle (in which the flag of Eritrea reflects), and four emblems of Eritrea, one in each corner (Eritrea 26 Nov. 2018). According to the US Reciprocity Schedule, passports issued since 2010 "show the applicant's nationality and the [b]io data and photographs are printed and machine[-]readable. Lamination is of a better quality and numerous security features, both holographic and ultraviolet, are utilized" (US n.d.).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of African studies and political science at the Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs, whose interests include the Horn of Africa, indicated that he has been aware of cases of non-Eritrean individuals, mostly from Tigray state of Ethiopia and who speak the Eritrean language, who have tried to obtain Eritrean passports at Eritrean consulates abroad using fake identity cards (Professor 2 Dec. 2018). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

An article by the New Yorker reports the detention of a human smuggler in December 2015, "probably" in the United Arab Emirates, for using a forged Eritrean passport (The New Yorker 31 July 2017). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Eritrea. 13 December 2018. Consulate General of the State of Eritrea in Toronto.Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

Eritrea. 3 December 2018a. Consulate General of the State of Eritrea in Toronto. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

Eritrea. 3 December 2018b. Consulate General of the State of Eritrea in Toronto. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

Eritrea. 30 November 2018. Consulate General of the State of Eritrea in Toronto. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

Eritrea. 26 November 2018. Consulate General of the State of Eritrea in Toronto. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

The New Yorker. 31 July 2017. Ben Taub. "How Not to Solve the Refugee Crisis." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018]

Professor, Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs. 2 December 2018. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

United States (US). N.d. Department of State. "Eritrea Reciprocity Schedule." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Anthropologist whose interests include Eritrean exiles; Eritrea – embassy in Washington, DC; law professor whose interests include international migrations; publisher of an Eritrean-Canadian newspaper in Canada; research fellow at the Institute of African Affairs; researcher on migration policies in Sub-Saharan Africa; senior researcher on Ethiopia and Eritrea for Human Rights Watch.

Internet sites, including: Australia – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; ecoi.net; Économie Matin; The Economist; Eritrea – embassy in Washington, DC; EU – Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online; The Independent; Malta Today; The New Arab; Passport Index; Swiss Refugee Council; Times of Malta; UN – Refworld.

Attachment

Keesing Technologies. N.d. Keesing Documentchecker. "P2 - Eritrea - ERI - National Passport 2010." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2018]