The special Border Surveillance Unit of the Department of Immigration and Emigration newly established at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) has successfully foiled 29 attempts by various individuals to leave the country for European destinations by using forged papers within this year.
A top official of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) told the Daily Mirror yesterday the latest case was reported on Friday, where a young woman was apprehended for attempting to depart the country with a forged passport.
The special Border Surveillance Unit which is equipped with a modern stateof-the-art document scanning laboratory was formally established at the BIA in June 2019, in response to the beefed up security situation owing to the Easter Attack and to track down extremist suspects leaving the country for foreign destinations.
The document laboratory equipped with a passport scanner, a verification machine and microscopic machines had been granted by the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) with the funding of the Australian Government, about seven years ago.
However, the modern lab had been effectively put into use in 2019 when the DIE commenced the special unit at the airport with a departmental staff specially trained by the experts from the United Kingdom and the Airline Liaison Officers (ALO) attached to several top diplomatic missions in Colombo as well as the private airline companies functioning at the BIA.
The special project is recognised to be one for the first time in immigration history where the departmental officials are working hand-in-hand with the private and Srilankan airlines staff at the airport checkin counters to detect and trace passengers attempting to depart with forged documents, such as altered passports and visa documents.
The top official said since January 01st this year up to December 25th, when the last case was detected, altogether 29 people both male and female had been arrested by the officials of the Border Surveillance Unit and legally dealt with.
He said that in most of the cases, the perpetrators had tried to leave mostly to Italy and Canada in private airlines via Dubai or Qatar as its transit destination.
The Border Surveillance Unit, which comes under Deputy Controller Investigations M.G. V Kariyawasam, is presently manned by 16 specially trained Immigration Officials, who would operate both in uniforms and civvies inside the BIA to trace any unlawful departures or arrivals. (KURULU KOOJANA KARIYAKARAWANA)