By MARC LACEY
Published: March 2, 2007
All travelers to the Caribbean for the Cricket World Cup in March and April will have their passports checked against an international database of lost or stolen travel documents, making the islands the first region in the world to put such a system in operation.
Before the nine countries involved in the World Cup along with the Bahamas jointly began operating the screening system, only Switzerland was checking all incoming passports against Interpol’s database of 13.4 million lost or stolen travel documents.
“The Caribbean is living proof that it can be done,” Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, said in a telephone interview yesterday from New York.
“It’s not a question of money,” he said. “It’s not a question of population size. It’s not a question of the size of the police force.”For years, Mr. Noble has been leading an effort to connect Interpol’s 186 member countries to the database.
It has been a slow process.
Just 120 of the 186 member countries supply information to Interpol on stolen or lost passports in their jurisdictions.
The United States, for example, runs fewer than 100 checks per month against the database, although it also uses some of the data from Interpol for its investigations.
In contrast, the 10 Caribbean countries ran 129,000 passport checks in January and the first half of February, finding 41 stolen or lost passports.
The system cost less than $500,000 to put in place, said Mr. Noble, who just completed a tour of the area.
The fraudulent documents that the Caribbean countries discovered were from the United States, El Salvador, the former Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Turkey and other countries.
The cricket tournament, which runs from March 11 through the end of April, will be held in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.