The framework governing the new APEC system to detect the use of stolen and lost passports has been agreed by members and the system is now ready to expand to a number of economies around the Asia-Pacific.
The Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS), that was called the Regional Movement Alert List during its testing phase, enables stolen and lost passports to be detected if used to cross a border in participating Member Economies.
The 'Multilateral Framework for Regional Movement Alert System' outlines governance and operational aspects of the system and contains the Memorandum of Understanding that Member Economies will sign before they can participate.
The framework establishes the procedures that are followed for checking the validity of a passport and the transmission of an alert if a stolen or lost passport is detected by the system.
The RMAS has been trialed by three APEC Member Economies (Australia, New Zealand and the United States) over the past year. It works through the transmission of passport details from airline check-in counters and border posts back to the economy that originally issued the passport. If that passport has been reported as being either missing or stolen an alert is transmitted back to the border post that the passport holder is attempting to transit. This then provides critical real-time information to assist local authorities in deciding how to manage the case.
Until now it has been possible for terrorists and other criminals to travel with stolen or lost passports so long as the holder did not attempt to travel to the economy that issued the passport. This meant for example that a person might have been able to travel between two economies using a passport from a third economy that had been reported as stolen or lost, without raising any alarm. Those days are gone now with participating Member Economies able to detect the use of these passports in a matter of seconds and ensure that action is taken.
The system also ensures that privacy is protected as no private data is released by participating economies. The only information that is transmitted is a request for verification to the passport issuing economy to establish authenticity of the passport, and the subsequent positive or negative response from the issuing economy.
With the adoption of the framework the remaining 18 APEC Member Economies are now able to join the system.