Interpol warns use of passports database needs to improve

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Interpol warns use of passports database needs to improve

Lax approach to digital screening allowed stolen documents onto MH 370.

Interpol has publically admonished its member states for failing to use its global stolen passports database to its full potential, and allowing more than one billion unchecked passengers onto planes in 2013 alone.

The international law enforcement agency's complaints follow confirmation that two passengers on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 successfully boarded the plane using documentation recorded in the database as having been stolen in 2012 and 2013. 

In response, the agency’s secretary general Ronald K. Noble called upon member states to implement systemic checking processes at the border to ensure every single passenger is screened.

He described the doubt surrounding the two unidentified MH 370 passengers as “a situation we had hoped never to see”.

“For years Interpol has asked, 'why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates?'” he said.

“Now we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists, while Interpol is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights.

“I sincerely hope that governments and airlines worldwide will learn from the tragedy of missing flight MH 370 and begin to screen all passengers’ passports prior to allowing them to board flights."

The Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database was set up by Interpol in the 12 months following the September 11 2001 attacks on the US, and has since grown from a few thousand records and searches to more than 40 million entries and more than 800 million searches per year.

Active checkers include the US, UK and United Arab Emirates. Figures were not given for Australian usage.

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