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07 June 2011 - Media release

Global aviation security requires the industry to step in where governments fail, INTERPOL Chief tells IATA meeting

SINGAPORE – INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has said that airlines have an interest in ensuring passenger safety that equals that of governments, and that if governments fail to properly screen passengers' identity documents then the airline industry must do so.  Mr Noble said the security of passengers and aircraft is a shared responsibility.

Speaking at the 2011 International Air Traffic Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Singapore, the Head of INTERPOL said that two imperatives should guide joint action on air travel security: getting better at facing today’s threats, and getting ready for the threats of tomorrow.

“Whenever attacks have been successful, it was because we collectively failed to collect, analyze and share the information we already had. And whenever attacks have been prevented, it was because we succeeded in exploiting the information available to us concerning a specific passenger, group or threat,” said the INTERPOL Chief.

“The most glaring global security gaps linked to airline security remain the gaps that have existed for almost 20 years.  Terrorists and other dangerous criminals continue to enter and pass through countries using falsified stolen passports.  The failure of the vast majority of the world's countries to screen these against a global database of stolen and lost passports can be corrected by the airline industry, and the industry could collaborate with INTERPOL to do so.”

“It will be cold comfort to airline passengers and citizens worldwide to learn that ten years after the attacks of 9/11 and almost 20 years after the first World Trade Center attacks of 1993, we let one out of two international airline passengers cross borders without checking whether they are carrying stolen or lost travel documents,” said Mr Noble of the 935 million total international air arrivals recorded in 2010.

Mr Noble called for the systematic check of international air travellers against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, the only such global repository and today containing almost 28 million records of stolen and lost passports from 158 countries, accessible by officers at airports, borders and other field points.

“We should exploit our available global tools; we should give the airline industry access to essential data and focus on the only element that will always be present whenever air travel is targeted: the passenger's identity document.  Criminals and terrorists with a past, who have typically travelled extensively and left a trail behind them will continue to use stolen and lost passports to conceal their true identity until we plug this glaring security gap,” added Mr Noble.

Secretary General Noble called for the systematic check of international air travellers against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database during IATA's annual general meeting.