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AKIPRESS.COM - The OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, in close co-operation with the Border Security and Management Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, organized a study visit to Amsterdam for seven aviation security experts from Kyrgyzstan. The visit, which took place from 26 to 28 June, aimed at providing Kyrgyz representatives with a better understanding of the benefits of using Advance Passenger Information (API) data for border management purposes. The trip enabled them to experience first-hand the functioning of the Travel Information Portal (TRIP), the Dutch passenger data solution.
An API system is an electronic system through which biographic data from a traveller’s passport and flight details are collected by airlines. This data is then transmitted to the relevant national authorities at the border before the departure or arrival of a specific flight. By checking the data against law enforcement watch lists, such as those of INTERPOL, border officials can know in advance whether foreign terrorist fighters or other persons with suspicious profiles are attempting to enter their country.
During its stay in Amsterdam, the Kyrgyz delegation visited the Dutch API Centre, where the passenger data received from the airlines is processed in real time and matched against the information contained in national databases. When the cross-checking of the API data generates a ‘hit’, an alert is sent to the appropriate border control officers, together with a request for action. At Schiphol Airport, participants learned how the Royal Marechaussee, the Dutch gendarmerie corps, reacts to the alerts transmitted by the API Centre.
The study trip also included a visit to the headquarters of the Tax and Customs Administration, during which participants were briefed about the operational capabilities of the Travel Information Portal. They also learned about the technical requirements that must be taken into account when setting up an API system, including the establishment of secure methods for transferring the data.
The activity was intended as a follow-up to the Awareness-Raising Seminar on API organized in Bulan-Sogottu in northern Kyrgyzstan last year to familiarize Kyrgyz law enforcement officers with API data, and the roundtable discussion on API held in Bishkek this May. At the conclusion of the roundtable discussion, the Kyrgyz participants showed willingness to learn more about how the TRIP works in practice and to discuss a potential donation of the system for implementation in Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz Republic has already taken the first steps to set up its own API system. An Inter-Agency Working Group on API comprising all national agencies involved in aviation security - including the State Committee on National Security, the State Border Service, the Civil Aviation Agency, and the Anti-Terrorist Centre - has already been created and will hold its first meeting in the coming days. These agencies include the State Committee on National Security, the State Border Service, the Civil Aviation Agency, and the Anti-Terrorist Centre. Among other issues, the Working Group will discuss the outcomes of the study visit to the Netherlands and the recommendations included in the National Roadmap for API Implementation that was presented at the above-mentioned API roundtable.