LYON, France – Leaders of the 21-nation Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping have endorsed the use of INTERPOL’s stolen travel documents database to help prevent terrorists and other dangerous international criminals from circulating freely around the world, making it the latest major international body to do so.
During their meeting in Busan, South Korea, on 18-19 November, the leaders accepted a recommendation from the preceding ministers’ meeting to have all of their member nations begin voluntary contributions to the INTERPOL database by the end of 2006. APEC’s member countries account for more than a third of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) and approximately 40 percent of world trade.
INTERPOL’s global stolen travel documents database has grown from a few thousand entries just three years ago to more than 8.5 million today. The number of stolen passports which have been identified in the field by law enforcement officers accessing INTERPOL’s database jumped from 27 in 2002 to more than 700 in 2005.
By committing themselves to sharing stolen travel document information with INTERPOL and its 184 member countries, APEC joins the UN Security Council, the G-8, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation and the International Civil Aviation Organization in recognising that both a global database and a global strategy are needed to prevent terrorists from crossing borders illegally.
INTERPOL and its member countries have identified a clear link between terrorist activities and the use of lost or stolen travel documents. INTERPOL created its global database in 2002 to allow police and customs officials to prevent dangerous international criminals from using fraudulent, stolen or lost passports, visas or other travel documents.
'With this latest endorsement, a clear international standard regarding the need to share stolen or fraudulent travel document information on a global basis has been established,' INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said. 'If any country in the future does not share its stolen or lost passport information on a global basis and one of their passports is used by terrorists or other dangerous criminals to commit crimes on foreign soil, there will be a heavy price to pay.'
INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 184 member countries, which each maintain an INTERPOL National Central Bureau staffed by members of their national police. Police and customs officers using INTERPOL’s global police communications system, known as I-24/7, can access instantaneously an array of databases, international wanted persons notices and other crucial criminal information.
For more information, contact the INTERPOL Communications and Publications Office via e-mail: press@INTERPOL.int, or APEC spokesperson Christopher Hawkins on +61 433 810 844 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.