Ecuador to conduct biometric screening of foreigners

Ecuador will apply a biometric system using fingerprints to control the entry of foreigners, Internal and External Security Minister Gustavo Larrea said Monday.

The measure will come into force in January 2009. Trial runs for such a system are already in operation in some parts of the country, he said.

Such screening was introduced 15 days ago in the southern areas bordering Peru, and about eight days ago in the northern areas bordering Colombia, he said.

Without giving exact numbers, Larrea said the system had already helped authorities prevent several people with criminal records from entering Ecuador, including a Peruvian who was wanted in his country.

Larrea said the test runs should be completed in December. Necessary adjustments will be made before it is used at the airports of Quito and Guayaquil, two of Ecuador's main cities.

"In January, the screening system will begin full operation at all the airports, ports and land entrances of Ecuador," he added. - PNA