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Jamaica, Interpol sign visa-waiver agreement

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkeya@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014    

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THE signing of an agreement between the Government of Jamaica and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) will mean ease of travel through the country's borders for Interpol agents on official business.

The explanation was given by Assistant Commissioner of Police Kevin Blake, who heads the National Intelligence Bureau, following an announcement by Information Minister Sandrea Falconer that Cabinet had approved the signing of the agreement for the recognition and acceptance of the Interpol Travel Document when used by Interpol officials at Jamaica's borders.

The information minister told journalists at yesterday's Jamaica House press briefing that Interpol documents will be accepted in cases where the traveller is from a country that would require them to have a visa. In addition, she said the Interpol epassport/e-ID card must be presented with a letter of invitation from the relevant authorities in Jamaica and a valid national passport. She said the agreement is to be reviewed in three years.

Interpol is mandated under international public law to ensure and promote mutual assistance between all the police authorities within the limits of the laws in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

According to ACP Blake, without the Interpol Travel document, "a significant portion of the time for logistics planning and to get Interpol officials into these member states is taken up by applying for a visa".

"So what the Interpol Travel Document has sought to do is to make travel easier in these circumstances for Interpol officials," he told the media.

He said the travel document, which has some 29 security features, "surpasses the standards of many Travel Documents in other member states".

"So far we have had 67 countries [that] have recognised the Interpol travel document. Jamaica now makes 68, and as a symbolic objective we are trying to get at least 100 countries recognising it this year," ACP Blake said.

He emphasised that the document is specifically for Interpol officials.

"The sole purpose is to cause ease of travel through borders by Interpol agents on Interpol official business. So even though you may be an Interpol official on some other visits you cannot use the travel document," he pointed out.

Interpol is the largest international police organisation in 190 countries. This year it celebrates a hundred years in existence of which Jamaica has been a partner over the last 52 years.

The Interpol National Central Bureau for Jamaica operates out of Kingston as part of the Operations Portfolio. Interpol Kingston is the principal platform for Jamaican police investigations requiring international outreach. It engages in police co-operation activities daily at local, regional and international levels.

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