ABC's Kelly Bellknap reports from London:
Enjoy travelling but fed up with the tedious visa process? So is the world’s largest police force. But starting today Interpol, the global police organization, will enjoy visa-free travel while we continue to spend countless hours filing paper work.
Interpol is now issuing special passports to its senior investigators, allowing them to enter any of the organization’s 188 member countries without enduring the visa process.
According to an Interpol press release given to ABC News, two countries, Pakistan and Ukraine, have already agreed to waive visa entry requirements for Interpol passport bearers, recognizing that those individuals will be travelling on behalf of the organization.
Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that as more countries waived their visa requirements for Interpol passport holders, the more effective the organization would become. “When member countries ask INTERPOL for assistance to prevent, investigate, or respond to any terrorist act, serious crime or natural disaster, the safety and security of their citizens may depend on INTERPOL being in place as fast as possible,” said Secretary General Noble.
Noble is confident the 186 other member countries will approve the new passports soon.
Noble claims there have been many cases in the past where Interpol investigations have been held up because they couldn't travel while waiting for their visa to be approved. He claims without delays from visa processing Interpol officers will be able to reach sites of terrorist attacks or natural disasters immediately.
Singapore police commissioner and Interpol president Khoo Boon Hui was the first to receive the Interpol passport. It is expected that nearly 1,000 additional passports will be issued to heads of Interpol offices and their staffs.
Since its creation in 1923, Interpol has expanded to offer policing assistance to 188 countries. The organization most recently added Samoa, the island nation situated about half-way between New Zealand and Hawaii, to its global reach.