WASHINGTON - INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has welcomed the endorsement of INTERPOL's stolen travel documents database by ministers at the Group of Eight Justice and Home Affairs meeting in Washington.
The Secretary General addressed the group on 11 May, underlining the importance of the database in strengthening countries' defences against international criminals and terrorists.
INTERPOL has already identified a clear link between terrorist activities and the use of stolen or fraudulent travel documents and created the database in 2002 in order to facilitate the global exchange of information about such documents.
'The support by the G8 of INTERPOL's stolen travel documents database is an important step forward in getting all of the world's nations to contribute to and consult this vital resource,' Mr Noble said. 'Criminals and terrorists do not recognise borders and only through information sharing on an international scale can law enforcement officers and governments hope to restrict their movements'.
'In order for governments around the world to better protect their citizens, they must take advantage of every tool available to them and the stolen travel documents database is a crucial way for them to fight terrorism and other serious crime'.
Details of approximately one and a half million travel documents from 40 countries are now registered in the database. The information is available to all of INTERPOL's 181 member countries through the organization's Command and Co-ordination Centre in Lyon, France, which is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and also through I-24/7, INTERPOL's global police communications system.
On 6 May, the United States announced that information on US passports reported lost or stolen would be added to the INTERPOL database.
'The decision to register stolen or lost US passports with the INTERPOL database is both timely and welcome,' Mr Noble said.
Nearly 200,000 of the stolen travel documents already registered with INTERPOL are blank, including a large number of stolen blank passports. Photographs, descriptions and aliases can be easily inserted, making them particularly valuable to criminals and terrorists.
Police in any of INTERPOL's member countries can consult the stolen travel documents database through the organization's National Central Bureaus.