Immigration ups passport scrutiny skills

Immigration ups passport scrutiny skills

The Immigration Bureau are setting up special teams to examine passports at airports more thoroughly as the government seeks to increase efforts to tackle global terrorist threats and transnational crimes.

Immigration Bureau chief Natthon Phrosunthon said the teams named "Suvarnabhumi", will be based at international airports and will look to prevent terrorists and transnational criminals sneaking into Thailand and other Asean countries.

He was speaking at a training session on passport examination procedures in Samut Prakan yesterday.

The training comes five days after a terrorist attack in Jakarta which left eight people dead.

Pol Lt Gen Natthon said the teams include officials and employees from both public and private bodies which are stationed at airports. They would include members of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, the Special Branch, local police, as well as airline and commercial bank employees.

Pol Lt Gen Natthon said team members would go after fake travel documents in particular.

Specialists from Australia and Canada were drafted in for the training.

Bank employees will be better able to identify fake or doctored passports used at money exchanges at airports, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Thatchai Pitaneelaboot, Immigration Division 2 commissioner, said conflict in the Middle East and the expansion of Islamic State into Southeast Asia have forced authorities to seek more cooperation from the private sector to prevent terror attacks and counter transnational criminals.

As well as the passport screening teams, the Immigration Bureau also set up what it calls a Thai Immigration 24/7 Centre to monitor and screen foreign travellers and expats living in the country to see if they are on blacklists here or in other countries.  

Integrated information technology will enable the centre to link up with other databases both at home and overseas such as Interpol's database, through various systems such as the Personal Identification Blacklist Immigration Control System (PIBICS) to try and identify criminal suspects.

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