Stolen passports – “Too late to close the barn door after the horse has bolted”

Passport Control (2)Closing the barn door after the proverbial horse has bolted means you failed to take some precaution and an unwanted or unintended result occurred.

This is clear in the wide consternation being expressed by the media, international law enforcement and border and aviation security organisations about the proliferation of stolen, lost, altered and counterfeit passports.

In the wake of the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner on March 8, 2014 Interpol and various border service and airline security teams are trying to determine the identities of those who used the stolen passports to board the Malaysian airlines flight. Concurrently the Thai national police chief has set up a task force to investigate the issue of the stolen passports.

BORDERPOL has for years been preaching the gospel on the use of fraudulent travel documents by various criminal sectors around the world. It is an open secret that the majority of fraudulent passports are used to facilitate illegal or illicit migration movements while a small undeterminable percentage of these are used by individuals associated with weapons, narcotics, wildlife trafficking and smuggling not to mention state sponsored use of bogus passports to cover the identities of covert ops personnel.

There are well known reasons why the use of fraudulent travel continues to exasperate us. This criminal activity would decline if the myriad of international organisations associated with challenging the problem got along better. But they do not. Professional jealousies and ongoing turf wars between legacy national and global institutions are at the root of this and continue unabated. Furthermore they are collectively dismissive of approaches made by new international bodies that suggest alternatives to their programs.

Entry controls by governments have been ramped up over the past decade with better trained staff and more modern technology. At the same time exit controls have been allowed to atrophy or have been removed altogether. Exit controls effectively close the human migratory loop and significantly removes opportunities for the use of bogus travel documents. It was a profound mistake by states to eliminate effective exit controls particularly at international airports. The 18th century paper passport has to be replaced with 21st century solution. Alternatives already exist. What is lacking is the necessary leadership and will within the global border security, traveler and migration management community to challenge the status quo.

In the meantime the proverbial barn door is left open ,which is an aid and comfort to the criminal community.

Written by Thomas A. Tass, BORDERPOL


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.