Border Management Information System Goes Live in Belize
Belize - The Government of Belize is today holding an inaugural ceremony at Phillip Goldson International Airport as IOM officially hands over a Personal Identification and Registration System (PIRS) border management system. The system will operate at all 11 Belizean air, land and sea border crossing points and at six immigration offices.
"The new IOM system is a complete modernization of the pen and log book method that was used in Belize. Now immigration officers have comprehensive software that captures arrival and departure entries of all persons traveling to and from the country," said Delbert Field, IOM Chief of Mission in neighbouring Guatemala.
The log book system meant that in order to retrieve data about arrivals and departures, immigration officials had to search log books literally flipping through pages. Information on travelers was often not available and in some cases could only be accessed days after the person had left the country.
Estimates for 2012 show a total of 750,000 arrivals and 250,000 departures, confirming that some land borders had no exit controls, resulting in incomplete data.
“The new system will enable improved border movement control and migration management through the collection, processing and storing of travelers’ information, bio data and other relevant information. It will also increase security and help us to fight organized crime and other illegal activities such as human trafficking, migrant smuggling and fraudulent document use,” said Maria Marin, Belize’s Director of Immigration and Nationality Services.
Belize faces numerous challenges in effectively controlling its borders. Its strategic location in Central America makes it a transit route for both legal and illegal activities from South to North America. The country has approximately 320 miles of border, divided almost equally between Mexico and Guatemala, and limited resources to devote to migration management. It has a relatively small and young population, low per capita income and a small labor force of 90,000.
"The system provides the infrastructure to support interconnection between all immigration offices and borders. Centralizing the data will allow the department to have accurate information related to migration flows and provide better analysis to implement migration controls and procedures to assist in the regulation of migration matters. The system will interconnect with the Belize Immigration Passport System and also with INTERPOL to improve border security and help immigration officers to detect fraudulent documents. It will also help us to consolidate lists of stolen documents to enhance the integrity of our Belizean passports,” explains Information Technology Manager Rodolfo Bol, Jr.
The system will also allow for the formulation of statistics on length of stay and nationality, which will assist the tourist industry.
The new system includes computer work stations, webcams, passport readers and fingerprint scanners and will be managed through a central server at Immigration Headquarters in Belmopan.
Earlier this year, two IOM border management experts conducted a six-week training course for 98 immigration officials to prepare them for the new system. The officials were trained in the use of the system, as well as its installation and maintenance.
The project was carried out with the support of the US Embassy in Belize and with funding from the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
For more information, please contact
IOM Belize, Belmopan City