Security at ports of entry is to be tightened as cruise ships and airlines are to be required to provide information on passengers 40 minutes prior to arriving and leaving the island are introduced.
While speaking on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2018, Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said advanced information on travellers entering and leaving Barbados is of prime importance to border and national security.
The Minister said the measures would also speed up the process at the ports of entry to shorten the time period it takes for travelers to be processed.
The legislation will require commercial and private vessels and airliners to give advanced passenger information for each person on board, including crew members, in electronic form, no less than 40 minutes prior to departure either into or out of Barbados.
“As the law now stands, there was a difference on some of these issues. In some cases, the timeframe given was 15 minutes which is too short a time. That meant that someone can come, check in 30 minutes before and get on the plane. But that will no longer be able to happen because there has to be, at least forty minutes before, in terms of passengers on that plane, information about them, having to go to the JRCC [Joint Regional Communication Centre], and to other intelligence agencies to ensure that the individuals on that flight, or ship, into Barbados, or out of Barbados, is not on some international watch list, that they are not involved in criminal activity, that they are not a criminal deportee, or they are not a person of interest,” Hinkson said.
The Home Affairs Minister told the House that the measures were necessary, since Barbados is a member of regional and international agencies that require security information. He said that the JRCC, defined in the amendment as a sub-agency of CARICOM security agency, IMPACS, requires advanced passenger information.
“All of this as we said is subject to securing our borders, and ensuring that our national security is covered and is assured. Certainly, one of the two, if not the main purpose of a Government is the security of its citizens. Of course, the economic security, but also the physical security Sir. We have to do our best to keep out the bad elements out of our country…. Order 5 before Parliament today is to deal with the provision of advanced passenger information.
“We had a World Cup in 2007 and some of these systems came into place at that time because for that event there was a lot of freedom of movement between countries… where for example you were from England and you came to Barbados to watch the cricket match, you essentially checked into all the other countries where cricket was playing…. That was tremendous. And when it was hoped now that we would move on in terms of ease of travel between our CARICOM countries, in comes the Democratic Labour Party Government and everything goes back.
“It is up to this Government now to bring that back to where we ought to have been going ten years ago,” he said.
The Minister also added that the countries within the domestic space with which the information of passengers into and departing from Barbados will be shared, has been expanded to 20 countries that have been listed in the Amended Schedule (5) to the Immigration Act.
“The Fourth Schedule of the Immigration Act is being amended to allow for more information than what is presently provided for, or required to be given, within this data information framework to the relevant authorities.
“So for example, even your frequent flyer information would be provided, when you were issued with the ticket, whether you have a one-way ticket, whether you have an automated ticket, the fare quotations, whether there is general remarks which would include for instance whether you are accompanied by a minor, and the name and gender of that minor, the language that the minor speaks, all of that information will be shared now between those countries within our domestic space, for the security of us all,” Hinkson said.