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Dec 17, 2004

High tech passports ready to issue

One of the first tasks of Carmen Zetina in his new role as Director of Immigration will be the introduction of the new high tech Belize passports. The first batch of machine-readable passports has arrived in Belmopan and issuing will begin in early 2005. The introduction of the new technology, facilitated by the United States government, is intended to reduce the possibility of forgery, particularly as it relates to terrorism, immigrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. It is not clear if the new system will have any impact at all on the ability of corrupt officials to sell nationality to anyone with the right amount of cash. The machine-readable passports will be phased in over a period of years as Belizeans seek renewal of their expired travel documents.

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