An APEC counter terrorism conference has called for greater capacity building measures to expand the use of biometric passenger checks at border crossings and ports.
The Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) Conference has also recommended that more APEC Member Economies introduce Advanced Passenger Information (API) systems to screen for illegal passenger movements. The recommendations appear in the Final Report from the STAR Conference that has been released and is now available online (www.apec.org).
The STAR Conference is a forum of senior government and business representatives from APEC's 21 Member Economies that examines measures intended to make trade safer in the region while ensuring trade is not obstructed by enhanced security measures.
In the workshop on business mobility and biometrics, the conference was briefed on the benefits provided by several biometric systems currently being used around the APEC Region. These include measures such as facial recognition using computer analysis, fingerprint checking and the identification of iris features.
However, as these new measures often require substantial resources and highly specialized skills for their implementation, the conference agreed that capacity building assistance was essential for a number APEC Member Economies.
The STAR Conference also shared additional information on the benefits and implementation issues associated with the expanded use of Advanced Passenger Information (API) programs in the APEC Region.
These programs enable passenger information to be checked against warning lists and other security databases before a passenger boards an international flight. This allows security agencies at the passenger's destination to process immigration details even before the passenger departs from their original location. The API system also serves to speed up the movement of passengers through immigration at their destination as pre-processing has already taken place.
API is currently part of an "APEC Pathfinder Initiative" in which economies are voluntarily operating the system or undertaking feasibility studies.
The establishment of a Regional Immigration Alert System that could be linked to Interpol?s new criminal database was also discussed by the participants at the STAR Conference.
The aim of the STAR Conference is to facilitate a dialogue between the business and government sectors on counter terrorism issues.
Recommendations from the STAR Conference will now be presented to APEC Leaders, Ministers and Officials for consideration and policy development.
Other areas that were discussed by the STAR Conference include Maritime Security, Air Transportation Security and Financial Intelligence Units.
The First APEC STAR Conference was held in Bangkok in 2003. The Second STAR Conference hosted by Chile on March 5-6 attracted over 300 delegates.

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