Expatica news

US bid to place security officers at Schiphol

1 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — The US reportedly wants to place its own security officials at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and at least six other airports to quiz passengers  and catch terrorists before they board flights.

The security officials could in future be placed at the world’s busiest airports for flights to the US, such as Schiphol, Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris and Narita in Japan, Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported on Monday.

But the Justice Ministry said no official request has been lodged by the American Department of Homeland Security and thus refused to comment on the matter.
The chief of the US Immigration Service, Robert Bonner, said in the Wall St Journal that US officials should take over a large tasks of airlines. They will inspect passports and other documents, gather information and question passengers.

Bonner said the US inspectors should be given much more responsibility than the powers currently granted to airline security officials. Airlines will thus be spared company fines that they are forced to pay if they transport a passenger who is refused entry by American immigration officials.

The inspectors represent an additional security measure to the sky marshals that the US is demanding accompany flights to the US. Dutch flag carrier KLM has already agreed with the Dutch government to a six-month trial with armed air marshals on its US-bound flights.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the use of sky marshals was suggested as a important step towards improving air safety. KLM was in favour of the scheme, but has recently raised concerns about the use of weapons on its planes.
KLM said the placing of US security officials at Schiphol Airport was a matter for the Dutch government. “We do gather information on passengers, but we don’t screen any passengers,” a company spokesman said.

He said there was still a lot of work to be done for the latest proposal to go ahead. “It is a very sensitive affair. I expect that the Netherlands, together will other European countries, will take a stance.”
Authorities at Schiphol were not officially aware of the plan on Monday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news