The Peruvian government has announced plans to ban the entry of foreigners with a criminal record as part of efforts to tackle organised crime, though it is questionable if such a measure will have any significant effect.
Prime Minister Juan Jiminez Mayor said migration officials would have the power to ban the entry of "undesirable foreigners" who have "any type of questioning for their conduct," reported newspaper Peru 21. Foreigners who commit crimes in Peru could also be expelled from Peru under the new rules, he said.
"In this way, foreign assassins, smugglers of diverse nationalities, illegal miners and other foreign citizens involved in their own organized criminal activities will not be able to enter the country," he claimed, reported newspaper La Republica.
InSight Crime Analysis
This outright ban on entry for anyone with a criminal record makes Peru's immigration policy the toughest in the region. Jamaica is the only Latin American country with entry restrictions on convicted felons, according to US Probation Service information, and it notes this applies only to felons still under community supervision and is not always enforced.
However it is difficult to see how it will be put into practice. Assuming criminals attempting to come into Peru do not declare their history, airport and border officials would have to carry out a background check on every single arriving foreigner in order to enforce this ban.
While checking backgrounds and denying entry to convicted criminals during a visa process may be achievable, the question remains of what effect this will actually have in reducing crime. Transnational criminal organizations often use local partners to carry out their operations in different countries, and may have the capacity to secure false passports if required.
However while extremely tough entry requirements may be difficult to enforce and have a limited effect, there is evidence very lax regulations can affect crime levels. Ecuador's 2008 decision to drop visa requirements for almost every country in the world is believed to have contributed significantly to a rise in the presence of international criminal groups.