March 12, 2015 - 15:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Top European Union law enforcement officials were expected to agree Thursday, March 12, on quick fixes to make it tougher for terrorism suspects to travel abroad or return home unimpeded, the Associated Press reports.
EU interior ministers, meeting in Brussels, were to be asked to decide that the passports of everyone leaving or entering the 26-nation Schengen area should be checked against databases to ensure they are not stolen, forged or void.
The ministers were also expected to agree that individual travelers should be given special scrutiny if they meet high-risk criteria that are still to be formulated.
The EU made fighting terrorism a top priority after the Jan. 7-9 attacks in Paris that claimed 17 victims. As Thursday's meeting of interior ministers began, the chairman, Rihards Kozlovskis of Latvia, said, "terrorism still remains one of the biggest threats for our citizens."
Kozlovskis said the ministers would also discuss how to combat the use of the Internet to spread Islamic extremism or other radical doctrines, curtail the illicit trafficking of firearms and better share terrorism-related information by EU law enforcement agencies.
On Friday, EU justice ministers will discuss how to prevent people from being radicalized while in prison. The passport controls, if imposed, will require all airports, seaports and land entry points in the Schengen zone to be equipped with the proper scanners to check travel documents against databases maintained by Interpol or the Schengen-area countries. At present, EU officials say, passports in some places are looked at by immigration officials but not verified electronically.
Last year, an estimated 564 million travelers entered or left the Schengen zone, to which 22 of the 28 EU member nations belong.