Blog
By: Melis Güner

Millions of people worldwide take planes, ferries, cars, or just walk to cross the borders. Have you ever thought about the risks involved when thousands of people cross borders on a daily basis? Or about how much time border guards have to detect risks or a potential crime? And finally, do you know what is behind security or passport control that we are used to? 

Most of us have experienced passport control, metal detectors, and scanners, and many have seen other equipment used by border police. All these visible and invisible to the eye of an ordinary traveler methods and techniques are used to protect people from any possible harm and threats and ensure border and national security at the same time. 

"In our globalized world, not only the number of tourists has increased but also the number of transnational crimes,"

said Olivier Bertrand, representative of the European Commission, at the International Conference on Travel Document Fraud Detection and Combatting Irregular Migration in Istanbul, that took place on 12-13 May 2022. 

IOM Türkiye, in cooperation with the Turkish National Police and with the support of the EU, organized the event to strengthen international cooperation and communication channels on countering irregular migration and travel document forgery detection. In total, 110 participants representing institutions/organizations from more than 25 countries of origin and transit on the same migration route with Türkiye, as well as EU member states, IOM, relevant EU institutions and INTERPOL, came together to exchange information and best practices on countering irregular migration in the context of travel document fraud.

"According to the current regional and global trends, the use of fraudulent travel documents and IDs at air, land, and sea borders remains one of the most common methods of facilitating irregular movements,"

Tommaso de Cataldo, the Head of Migration Management Programme at IOM Türkiye, explained in his presentation. 

It is critical to have effective and comprehensive border management policies to ensure national security, public health, and human rights of those who cross the borders due to conflicts, natural disasters, deteriorating economic and social conditions, and personal reasons.

Pier Rossi-Longhi, the Senior Regional Thematic Specialist for Immigration and Border Management at the IOM Regional Office in Vienna, explained that "border management is not only about interception or refusal of entry but also about facilitating border crossings for regular passengers, detecting vulnerabilities, and helping people in need. Irregular migration puts the lives of people at tremendous risk. It puts them in the hands of smugglers, who often exploit them in many ways."

Türkiye is an example of a country facing increased cross-border movements in recent years, which unavoidably leads to the increased numbers of document fraud cases at the Turkish green and blue borders. Türkiye has over 2600 kilometers of land borders and 7200 kilometers of coastline and has 207 land, sea, and air border crossing points. Document fraud is widely perceived as a serious problem affecting border control and internal security of any country. The verification of the authenticity of identity and travel documents is a key element of border checks and a pre-requisite for efficient border control. 
 

"Detection of document fraud plays a key role in combatting irregular migration, as well as in the fight against other crimes,

added Emine Şahin, Commissar at the Department of Combating Immigrant Smuggling and Border Crossings of the Turkish National Police. 
 

The conference's focus on combatting irregular migration and document fraud detection is grounded in current trends. The conference's core theme was strong international cooperation on policies and data collection and exchange. Donato Colucci, Senior Border and Identity Solutions Specialist at IOM HQ, said: "States cannot combat irregular migration, fake documents, or fraudulent identities without collecting, analyzing, and sharing data." Thus, data analysis lays the ground for long-term border management solutions and policies.

As Türkiye intends to be a pioneer in implementing the Global Compact for Migration, the Government of Türkiye has put border security enhancement, which is reflected in the National Action Plan for Irregular Migration for 2021-2025.

IOM Türkiye will further support its national partners in achieving their goals in border management through various interventions, including such international events. "IOM is committed to supporting Türkiye and all its member states in strengthening their border management efforts with a view to increase effectiveness in reducing irregular migration across their borders," highlighted Tommaso de Cataldo during the conference.

The international conference was held under the EU-funded project "Enhancing Capacities of Turkish National Police and Other Law Enforcement Agencies in Detection of Forgery in Travel Documents and Risk Analysis," jointly implemented by IOM Türkiye and the Turkish National Police. The project aims to strengthen international cooperation on risk analysis, prevention, detection, and investigation of irregular migration and related crimes such as travel document forgery.