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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 6) – Solomon Islands will soon issue new computerized electronic passports in conformity to international standards and requirements.

Minister for Immigration Francis Billy Hilly said the new passport is developed in conformity with international standards as most international airports now use electronic scanner.

Speaking during the opening of the division’s new office on Friday, Mr Hilly said the new batch of electronic passports have arrived from United Kingdom and soon to be released to new passport holders as soon as the stock runs out.

The electronic passport is one of the many changes that will take place within the department in response to changes and evolution in transnational crimes, drug smuggling and refugee issues.

Besides going electronic with passports, the government is also contemplating improving the entry and exit points at the Honiara International Airport by computerising the system as opposed to the present manual tasks.

Mr. Hilly admitted that Solomon Islands is at the crossroad of many of the illegal activities and the need to strengthen the capacity of the Immigration Division is paramount.

He said that ongoing reforms are presently carried out under the administrative and business reform agenda.

"We therefore anticipate that the reform will strengthen and give major impetus to monitoring and supervision of our immigration laws," the minister said.

Mr. Hilly said that the 2005 Audit Report of the division gives a rather dismal picture of its functions and activities.

"This does give rise to a major rethinking and reconsideration," he said.

June 7, 2006

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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