Terrorists and criminals can exploit New Zealand passports to avoid detection if they cross international borders. A security expert believes a Kiwi passport is highly valuable in the black market and is reportedly worth $10,000 each.
According to Rhys Ball, a former intelligence officer and lecturer at the Massey Centre for Defence and Security Studies, the value of the New Zealand passport rely on its “low profile.” Stuff.co reported that thousands of New Zealanders report missing passports every year and authorities believe some are being used illegally.
Based on a report by the Department of Internal Affairs, about 11,136 passports were reported stolen while 42,348 were lost between 2010 and 2014. Authorities said it was not known how many cases of lost or stolen passports have gone unreported.
Most of the Kiwi passports were lost either in New Zealand or Australia but others were reported missing in other countries. Ball said the value of a New Zealand passport makes it a hot item for terrorists and criminals. He explained that a Kiwi passport is viewed as a non-threatening travel document issued by a country with strong processing system.
Ball believes stolen passports are appealing to people or groups engaged in illegal activities like human and drug trafficking, organised crime and terrorism. He claimed that a person holding a New Zealand passport would be less scrutinised than someone coming from the Middle East or Nigeria where conflicts are currently ongoing.
In 2000, a former staff at a passport office in Auckland was imprisoned for issuing false passports to mostly Asian immigrants. Christopher Robinson was charged with passport fraud for profit and served 2 years and 6 months in jail.
Despite the security measures present in case of lost or stolen passports, they can still be exploited for illegal activity. A convicted murdered and pedophile Phillip Smith has recently proved that there are lapses to passport security. He obtained a passport while in prison and escaped to Brazil in November while he was out on temporary release, Radio New Zealand reported. In another case, a kidnap ring suspect fled New Zealand and headed to Portugal using a passport he stole from a friend.