By Camelia Nathaniel
The Defence Ministry has introduced a new database service which enables the immigration authorities to ascertain the authenticity of travel documents of those who are leaving the country. Integration of INTERPOL Database Services with the Immigration Border Control System was launched yesterday at the Ministry of Defence under the patronage of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
This Information enables immigration officers at the Katunayake International Airport and Colombo International Harbour to check instantly whether a travel document is stolen or lost or the person is a known international criminal.
The Interpol has almost 35,000,000 records to share with member countries, in their database. Thereby, every passenger entering or leaving the country will be checked with the Interpol database from now on.
Addressing the gathering the Defence Secretary thanked the Canadian government for its assistance in funding this project which was prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Border security is essential with the increase in travel, he said adding that with the integration of INTERPOL data base services with the immigration border control system it will Strengthen Sri Lanka’s Border and National Security through enhanced data sharing and international cooperation.
Shantha Kulasekara, Head of the Migration Management Unit at the IOM in Colombo said that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is the largest international police organization in the world today, with 187 member countries. This system has been under implementation for the past 15 months, he said.
It was created in 1923 to facilitate cross-border police cooperation and to support and assist all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to fight international crime.
INTERPOL maintains several global databases to assist law enforcement agencies in member countries such as DNA Profiles, Fingerprints, Counterfeited Credit Cards, Child Abuse Images, Stolen or Lost Travel Documents (SLTD), Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV) and Stolen Works of Art (WOA).
He said that the purpose of the project is to link the immigration border control system online real time with the two databases, and establish a mechanism to effectively manage the administration of Sri Lanka passports that are reported stolen or lost in Sri Lanka and overseas.
Also elaborating on the benefits of the project Kulasekera said that it will now enables Immigration officers to check instantly whether a travel document is stolen or lost, grant access to international data and enable data to be accessed real-time, provide top-level security systems to protect access to the data, enhanced international cooperation on crime prevention, a platform for further expansion of INTERPOL services with other enforcement agencies and provide safety and security for Sri Lanka’s borders.
Addressing the gathering Immigration and Emigration Director General Chulananda Perera said that this is the first time in South East Asia that this system has been introduced. He said that it is a vital aspect in border management in Sri Lanka for national security and crime prevention.
This system was implemented by the Police (CID/INTERPOL) and the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
The INTERPOL database system has been endorsed and supported by the United Nations Security Council through Resolution 1617, adopted in July 2005, The International Civil Aviation Organization, European Union, the G8, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organisation.
Meanwhile, Bruce Levy, the High Commissioner for Canada in Sri Lanka stated that this system has also been extended to allow enforcement offices in Sri Lanka, where they can subscribe to it through the Department of Immigration and Emigration.