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IOM Document Examination Centre in Bangkok Aims to Help Combat Trafficking

 

(IOM) - IOM's support to migrants and border management authorities in the Asia-Pacific region moved up a gear earlier this month with the official opening of a Document Examination Support Centre (DESC) in Bangkok.

 

Housed at IOM's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, the DESC will provide guidance and support to immigration and border control officials in several countries in the region and thus combat irregular migration which can result in people smuggling and human trafficking.

 

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing cut the ribbon on the DESC premises, assisted by Julanar Green, Political Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy, whose government is funding the USD 2 million programme.

 

"The DESC will fill a critical gap in the fight against irregular migration and in particular against people smuggling and human trafficking - one of the great crimes of our time - worth some USD 35 billion a year. It will facilitate border management authorities' access to the latest technology and terminology, as well as allowing migration officials to map migration trends," he said.

 

Sjef Broekhaar, IOM's senior regional immigration and border management specialist, who leads a small team operating the DESC, said that the new facility will fill a huge void in existing services, by acting as a one-stop shop for travel document verification.

 

"Many officials get formal training in document examination, but when they are presented with forged documents, their gut feeling that 'something is wrong' often needs backup. We can access the highest available document recognition technology to help them make an informed decision to stop a traveller or to allow them across a border," he noted.

 

The DESC will work in close cooperation with authorities that issue travel documents and visas in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam, and intends to sign individual country agreements to help protect the privacy and data of citizens and visa applicants.

 

According to Ambassador Swing, IOM hopes to eventually broaden the scope of such agreements across the Asia-Pacific region. He appealed for new partnerships to help expand the initiative and give better protection to as many travellers and migrants as possible.

 

For more information please contact

 

Joe Lowry
IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok
Tel. +66 81 870 8081
Email: jlowry@iom.int