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Nov 13, 2017

Immigration & Customs Team Up to Secure the Border

Belize and the European Union are partnering on a week-long training to keep our borders safe.  A group of immigration and customs officers is participating in a joint national border security workshop that seeks to increase security for Belize and, by extension, the region.   The training is expected to foster development of joint strategies in addressing common security threats and operational procedures. News Five’s Duane Moody reports from the Customs and Excise Department Training Room in Belize City.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Ministry of Immigration and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, better known as IMPACS, today launched a joint border security workshop in Belize City. The workshop will train custom officers and build capacity to prevent and detect illegal activity at official border points and enable increased prosecution and higher conviction rates.

 

Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration & Refugees

“It’s interrogation techniques and it is customs and immigration; normally we all see it, collocated and so there should be some synergies coming from that. And so those located there are the frontline greeters to Belizeans returning home and to visitors. And it is very important for our country at this time because tourism being the second highest foreign exchange earner for Belize, you would like to see that continue to grow in its popularity.”

 

Safeguarding our local borders by air, sea or land and preparing Belize for the eventuality of terrorist attacks or threats …. the one-week workshop is being coordinated through the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council and the IMPACS. Belize is the eleventh CARICOM state to take on the exercise.

 

Earl Harris

Earl Harris, Assistant Director, Strategic Services, CARICOM IMPACS

“It’s funded through the EDU under the tenth EDF program and really it is about bringing customs and immigration together and start understanding that no single entity has the capacity to patrol and protect our borders. So we bring them together we re-expose them to the new techniques; reinforce what they already know and teach them new skills in terms of human trafficking, smuggling, people using false travel documents, how you recognize it, how you recognize imposters. Reinforcing in their minds that they must know their laws, must know their authority because theirs is a responsibility of being the frontline of border security.”

 

IMPACS Strategic Services Assistant Director Earl Harris highlighted some of the things that border authorities must look for at borders and entry points to stem illicit activities. Integrity is also a major element of the training program.

 

Earl Harris

“You look at persons travel patterns because with the porous we know there’s a lot of illegal and illicit movement both in people and commodities through the unprotected, what we refer to as the porous, borders.  So the ones who come through the official borders, you ensure that they have genuine travel documents. And as I told the class this morning, sometimes people obtain genuine documents by fraudulent means so sometimes we have to go behind the document they are providing, matching them to birth certificates if we can or do it randomly. Often times we have to closely examine these documents to make sure they are not tampered with. We are seeing a lot of that happening, so we are teaching them the techniques how to identify, how to examine these documents, how to examine the passports and how to treat these persons when detected.”

 

Body language and a sense of nervousness and uneasiness are also techniques to identify persons of interests. Duane Moody for News Five.

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