Top-ranking immigration and border control officials from 39 European and Asian countries gathered in Bali for a three-day meeting December 5-7, 2005 held at Nusa Dua seeking avenues of cooperation to curve illegal immigration, cross-border crime, drug dealing, money-laundering and terrorism.
The Asia-Europe Immigration Director General's Meeting (ASEM) concluded a number of far-reaching agreements to be introduced before a deadline of 2010, including the introduction of electronic passports that include full-face photographs, fingerprints and a record of the eye retina of the passport's holder. According to Indonesia's Director General of Immigration, Iman Santoso, Indonesia will begin the process of making it more difficult to falsify passports with the introduction of microchips in Indonesian travel documents starting from 2006.
Also featuring prominently on the meeting's agenda was cross-border coordination between immigration departments that will track travelers movements, verifying that individuals who have departed their home country actually do arrive in the declared destination abroad.
The ASEM gatherting was the 4th meeting of its kind among the international immigration officials from across Asia and Europe.
International Cooperation Needed to Fight Terrorism
Indonesia's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Dr. Hamid Awaluddin, in comments made after formally opening the conference in Bali said that international movement of people between nations brings many economic and cultural benefits to the world while at the same time creating numerous problems for the governments involved. Citing terrorism as just one of these problems, Minister Awaluddin emphasized that modern international terrorism can only be combated through cross-border cooperation.
Information Sharing Among ASEAN Immigration Offices
Reportedly receiving wide-spread support at the ASEM gathering are plans to establish a ASEAN-wide immigration intelligence network among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This system, once fully implemented, will allow immigration offices from among the 10-member countries of ASEAN to freely exchange intelligence and share information on suspects and criminal sought by their respective police departments, those suspected of trans-national crime, or individuals banned entry from any of the member nations.
The discussions in Bali were conducted under conditions of strict security and confidentiality as official exchanged ideas and tactics for better border control management.
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