Belize Immigration updates border information management system, skills
Belize - IOM Belize is conducting a one-month training for immigration officials deployed at border points and in district offices across the country in the use of a computerized border management information system that will help them to identify and register everyone entering and exiting the country.
The modern, US-funded system will register the entry and exit of both Belizean nationals and foreigners. It will also help the tourist industry, allowing it to formulate statistics on the length of stay and nationality of foreign visitors.
Some 98 Belizean immigration officers will take part in the training, which will be conducted by IOM specialists and will include the use of the advanced border management system for passport control, as well as system installation and maintenance.
The new system includes computer work stations, webcams, passport readers and fingerprint scanners, which will be installed at all land, air and sea borders and district offices. The system will be managed through a central server at Immigration Department headquarters in Belize’s capital, Belmopan.
The system runs on the IOM-developed software known as the Personal Information and Registration System (PIRS), which has to date been supplied by IOM to eighteen countries around the world to assist with border management, data collection and passport verification.
“This system will increase security by contributing to the reduction of illegal actions such as trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and use of fraudulent documents. It will also, of course, automatically detect over-stay at exit points,” explained Pier Rossi-Longhi, IOM Immigration and Border Management Specialist for the Americas.
Currently, Belize does not have an interconnected national database to monitor the entry and exit of foreigners, although the country does experience large scale migratory flows.
“IOM´s support has played a key role in our success in the implementation of this automated system. When fully operational, it will aid us greatly in collaborative efforts to combat transnational criminal activities within the region,” said Debra Baptist-Estrada, Port Commander at Belize’s Phillip Goldson International Airport.
The pilot phase of the project, which will be ready for roll out in March, will target eleven Borders and District offices, including North Santa Elena on the Mexican border and West Benque on the Guatemalan border.
“PIRS represents a great accomplishment for the Government of Belize and the INS. It brings us to an operational level that is on par or similar to that of our neighbours in the region and internationally the changes will be viewed as a step forward in improving service. The INS will now be in a better position to deal with migration issues, both legal and illegal. This includes regular and irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling and other illegal activities that affect our region,” said Ruth Meighan, Director of Immigration & Nationality Department of Belize.
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