Nigeria: Abuja hosts U.S and other nations on air security

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Nigeria is hosting a three-day meeting of African ministers on aviation security in reaction to the December 25, 2009 failed terror attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in Detroit, by Nigeria Muslim youngster. US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has recommended a wide range of security measures, including information sharing on suspected terrorists and development of screening technology to protect passengers, prior to today’s regional air security summit in Abuja.

Following the failed attack, airports around the world, including in Nigeria, from where the suspected bomber took off, are mounting 3-D full body scanners for passengers. Also a list of terror nations was put in place to ensure extra attention on passengers from nations with records of extremism and Islamic radicalism.

Napolitano urged African ministers to set aside cultural, political and legal differences in order to heighten global aviation security. The conference in one of a series being organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) across five global regions

Due to the fact that the young Nigerian man attempted to blow up the plane with plastic explosives strapped to his underwear, new technology has been introduced to further scrutinize passengers.

“This new bomb could not be detected by all technology, therefore let us respond by ushering in the next generation of aviation security technology by coordinating our training and technical assistant efforts,” Napolitano was quoted by reporters as saying.

However, this new technology has raised cultural sensitivities and threatens to violate privacy laws in some countries as it reveals explicit images of passengers.

Despite issues of privacy and cultural sensitivities to introducing full body scanning technology, US Homeland Security Secretary insists that nations shouldn’t allow these differences to keep us from working towards a common goal of tighter air security.

“All countries have unique legal traditions, cultural differences and political realities. But I believe we shouldn’t allow these differences to keep us from working towards a common goal and even stronger partnership with respect to security and privacy,” Napolitano was quoted.

“We must have the full engagement not just of government agencies in this effort, but our industry partners around the world.”

ICAO secretary general Raymond Benjamin has stated that ICAO would step up efforts to find global solutions to these global threats.

The United States has urged African nations to work closely with it, the ICAO and the International Air Transport Association to forge stronger international security standards.

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