The Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka is planning to introduce biometric passport system within the year to increase travel document security and personal identity protections. The issuance of biometric passport was proposed at the first Colombo team meeting by the Regional Immigration Liaison Officer Network early this year. Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said in inaugural speech that experts from Australia and Hong Kong are preparing feasibility reports on implementing biometric passports. He said introducing the 'N' series of passports, installing new equipment in the Documentation Examination Laboratory is among suggestions submitted. Introducing an electronic travelling system and issuing visas online are also raised. Perera said the 30 years of war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam saw criminal and terrorist elements abusing the Sri Lankan system to commit cross-border crimes and violations. “Identity theft, passport forgeries, counterfeit visas, illegal crossing of borders both by air and sea to make bogus asylum claims have undermined our border and national security interests as well as security of countries in the region and beyond,” he said. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are among the Southeast Asian countries that have started issuing e-passports. The use of e-passports, or biometric passports by 2015, is mandatory for member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
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