Last month an executive order was issued by the President to prevent foreign nationals with criminal history to enter Palau, however, immigration officers in charge of implementing it face difficulties.
The Chief of the Immigration Department Flevin Misech said, “Palau is a very small country, there are very few countries we have diplomatic ties with. There are people who are trying to come to Palau with different intentions. As Palau might not have diplomatic ties with these countries, having to get their criminal records is a very long process.”
Misech also said that the carriers that are flying into Palau have been notified about the executive order. He is also hopeful that the airlines will further notify their passengers on board, however, he added that airlines are under no obligation to do so.
As Palau currently lacks resources to keep a tap on criminal history of people entering Palau, Misech added that the immigration department is utilizing social media to extract as much information as possible.
“That is the only free and accessible way to do it. At this time, I am going to get whatever I can from social media” Misech said.
However, he acknowledged that social media is often packed with unverified information and clarified that the staff does a further assessment and checks if information gathered is authentic.
The immigration department is part of Pacific Islands Directors Community (PIDC) and Misech has asked for assistance from it. Misechhas approached United Nations affiliated NGOs and has asked them if they can provide help in any way.
Although when asked about the entry of people who have been convicted of a crime in a country but under Palau law the crime they are convicted of is not valid, the Misech said,
“We work together with Attorney Generals office and Presidents office. It is not my sole decision; the decision will be based on our finding.”
It is worth noting that people who have been denied entry shall fly back on their own expense and the government won’t bear the expenses.
The burden of finding any past criminal history of people arriving in Palau is entirely on the Bureau of Immigration and border security officials won’t be involved in it.
“We are working with US. One of my staff met with US official based in Manila, they are helping out with what the technology US is using for border management. We might arrive to use that technology soon, everything would be automated”
The chief also added that he is hopeful in the implementation of this technology by the time of Oceans Conference next year.
“We already have the hardware but the IT needs to work if it is compatible with their [US] software.” He said. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)