Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute today joined Finnish Interior Minister Anne Holmlund to sign a Preventing and Combating Crime (PCC) Agreement—allowing for the enhanced exchange of biometric and biographic data to bolster counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts in both the United States and Finland while protecting individual privacy.
“Today’s agreement symbolizes our joint resolve to combat terrorism and transnational crime and gives us important new tools to fight those common threats,” said Attorney General Holder. “This agreement is a powerful reaffirmation that we will meet these challenges shoulder-to-shoulder.”
“Close collaboration with our international partners is critical to ensuring the safety and security of the American people,” said Deputy Secretary Lute. “This agreement between the United States and Finland strengthens our mutual efforts to combat terrorism, share vital law enforcement information, and facilitate lawful travel and trade between our nations.”
Under the agreement, investigators from the United States and Finland will use new procedures to betterentify known terrorists and criminals during investigations and other law enforcement activities. The agreement outlines processes for sharing vital information to help ensure the protection of citizens and help prevent threats to public security.
To date, the United States has strengthened ties with 13 international partners by signing similar agreements to prevent and combat crime with Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and nine recent entrants to the Visa Waiver Program. These agreements—negotiated by the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State—help to prevent individuals who commit crimes in one signatory country from continuing illicit acts in another and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the reciprocal partnerships that advance the safety and security of the United States and its allies.
Last week, DHS also announced the designation of Greece as a member of VWP—strengthening passenger information sharing and ensuring strict security standards while streamlining travel for Greek citizens visiting the United States. Finland is already a VWP member, and today’s agreement further strengthens its compliance with the program’s high security standards.
Today’s agreement builds on DHS’ emphasis on collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano recently returned from meetings with top officials from the Asia/Pacific region and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Tokyo—the third in a series of major international meetings intended to build consensus on enhancing global aviation security.
Following the meetings in Tokyo, Secretary Napolitano signed a joint declaration on a way forward to strengthen the international civil aviation system through enhanced information collection and sharing, cooperation on technological development, and modernized aviation security standards with Australia, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Secretary Napolitano also signed similar joint declarations to strengthen the international civil aviation system with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama on Feb. 17, and with the European Union on Jan. 21.
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