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Monday, August 24, 1998 Published at 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK


World: Europe

Belgium takes measures to end passport theft


The Belgian government is handing over the distribution of passports to a private company, following complaints from other countries that an increasing number of them were falling into the hands of the criminal underworld.

Belgium currently has about six-hundred passport offices, which have constantly been raided -- last year alone, three to four thousand passports disappeared.

The stolen passports -- giving access to the European Union, the United States and Canada -- are then sold for up to two-and-a-half-thousand dollars each.

A BBC correspondent in Brussels says the decision to centralise the distribution of passports has been a difficult one for a country riven by tensions between its French and Flemish communities.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service



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