The Edition


US left fuming as Maldives splits border control system

Mohamed Visham
28 June 2016, MVT 13:53
An immigration officer pictured at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA). PHOTO/IMMIGRATION
Mohamed Visham
28 June 2016, MVT 13:53

The US government has been left fuming after the Maldives curbed the functions of the US granted border control system to incorporate a German system, Mihaaru has found.

Mihaaru understands that the border control system has been split in two. The Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) provided by the US in now being used only to screen foreign passengers arriving and departing the archipelago.

The new German system has been dedicated to screen locals at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Mihaaru has found that the system developed by Germany's Dermalog has been operational since January this year. The new passport introduced to Maldivians in the same month is also made by a system provided by the German company.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's younger brother Abdulla Algeen who has been acquitted of several corruption charges had acted as the broker to bring in the new system.

Reliable sources have confirmed to Mihaaru that the US authorities had been incensed by the sudden decision by the Maldives and had even sent down an envoy to the archipelago.

The result of the discussions had paved the way for several changes to PICES online system wanted by the Maldivian authorities.

The changes to the online system is being brought by the National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT) under the supervision of an American consultant.

Government had not officially revealed that a new border control system had been installed. But had said a German company had provided the new passports and installed the new E-gates at the airport.

The immigration department refused to comment on the matter but the spokesperson admitted that some changes are being brought to the "online system."

However, after the new passports were unveiled in January, Dermalog in a statement had said biometric passports and automatic gates are complemented with a new border control system and with a high-speed Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)

"The Maldives is the first country in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to introduce such a sophisticated biometric passport- and border control system," the statement read.

PISCES-project was initiated by the US Department of State's Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP) in 1997 to keep a track suspected terrorists' movements.

Government had replaced the border control system (BCS) established by Malaysia's Nexbis Limited with the gratis system provided by the US government in August 2013.

Several concerns were raised at the time that PISCES was not an immigration solution and cannot be integrated with work visa, deportation module and other information systems.

The move to limit PISCES especially at a time when Maldivians leaving to join foreign conflicts is at all time high rise is a concern even raised by the US officials.