Immigration control to catch up with criminals with data base and biometricJuly 30, 2012, 10:08 pm
By Harischandra Gunratna
The Controller of Immigration and Emigration Chulananda Perera yesterday said that a new national stolen and lost travel document data base had been established and according to the new system arrangements had been made to collect details of all such passports and they would be cancelled forthwith and such details will be shared with the Interpol to prevent their misuse.
The system will be implemented from tomorrow (August 01) with assiatance from the Canadian government and the IOM.
"If someone uses a stolen or lost Sri Lankan passport anywhere in the world, with the new system in operation an alarm will be generated to catch the culprit," Perera said.
Perera also announced plans to introduce biometric passports in the near future to prevent forging of travel documents.
"The introduction of a biometric system would be the best to curb misuse of passports," the Immigration and Emigration Controller pointed out.
Misuse of passports for fraudulent activities would lead to lack of confidence for Sri Lankan passports among the international community he said adding that investigations have revealed that a stolen passport could be easily sold for about Rs 500,000.
Addressing a news conference, the controller said that the department now issue over 3,500 passports a day where as in the early 1950s only about 2,400 passports were issued for the whole year while 9 million passports had been issued from 1975 to date and 4.4 million were in circulation at the moment.
In 2011, 9249 all countries and 17,236 Middle East passports had been reported lost, he added
"Due to ignorance many who have lost their passports have faced many problems and the controller said that the if someone loses his or her passport immediately the department of immigration and emigration should be informed and an entry should be lodged at the police and after the copy of the entry is produced the passport would be cancelled," he said.
In the case of Sri Lankans living overseas, if a passport is lost, it should be reported to the respective Embassy, High Commission or the Consulate, he added.
Failure to report to concerned authorities about a lost or a stolen passport would result in the holder of the passport being liable for aiding and abetting an offence if it was used for any illegal activity as it quite often happened today, he explained.
Explaining about various ruses adopted by those seeking overseas employment, he said that when a someone received a visa to go for employment in West Asia, the particular job agency was required to pay Rs 200,000 to the prospective employee to be given to his family for home expenses prior to leaving the country and ruse adopted by them was to obtain the money and try the same gimmick with another agency.
The controller said that the job seekers thrived on this and operated with impunity because there was no coordination among the agencies.
Responding to a query about possible violations of rights of Lankans by some foreign missions requiring visa applicants to be finger printed, the controller said it was a requirement according to the law of the issuing country and always the applicant had the right to refuse but he or she would not get a visa.
Asked about the legality of passports of Sri Lankan visa applicants sent to other countries for approval or processing, he said that for each passport sent overseas, the department was paid Rs 1,000.
Responding to a query as to how ordinary persons carry diplomatic passports, the controller said that a diplomatic passport is issued to person only on the recommendation of the President and they are issued only for those who represent the state, he explained.
There are only two persons who have been legally empowered to travel without a passport and they are the Pope and Queen Elizabeth the ii, he added.
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