27 March 2014
Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, is working with Southeast Asian countries to bolster border security amid lapses in immigration checks before Malaysian Air Flight 370 went missing.
The discovery that two passengers boarded the missing jet using stolen passports has raised concern about Malaysia’s immigration security practices as the hunt for the plane enters its 20th day with ships and aircraft scouring the Indian Ocean.
More than 40 million passports are listed as missing on a database created by Interpol in 2002, yet planes were boarded about a billion times last year without the travel documents being screened against the register. The two Iranian nationals were able to board the plane in Kuala Lumpur using passports that were reported stolen in Thailand.
“The lesson that we need to learn from these kinds of incidents that happen now is the importance of technology to be accessible to all law enforcement and mainly immigration officers in accessing and integrating all the available police data,” Julia Viedma, Interpol’s director of international partnerships and development, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday.
The agency is in discussions with partners such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to enhance border security at airports and other checkpoints in some of the countries with some funding from the European Commission, she said. Interpol’s goal is to make the data assessible regardless of the country’s economic status, she said.
… While there is no evidence that the two passengers had any connection to the March 8 disappearance of the Boeing Co. 777-200 en route to Beijing, the security breach should be a rallying call for governments to act, according to Rohan Gunaratna, head of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies’ International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore. He estimates that fewer than 30 countries screen all traffic through the Interpol data base.
GPO / ICPVTR / RSIS / Online
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