Be vigilant to transnational crime trends in the Pacific region

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DEAR EDITOR, I was re-reading the excellent report made by Neil Boister, Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2017 and published on line by the USP.

Mr Boaster’s report laid out his thoughts on how he perceived the threat of transnational crime was beginning to pervade the Pacific and what he believe to be the counter measures to contain the threat.

In one of his opening statements he wrote (quote)

“THREAT ASSESSMENT

“The justification for collaborative action in the region is the threat presented by transnational crime to the safety and security of Forum members. In 1992 the Forum considered that if it increased in scale transnational crime could threaten the sovereignty of member states and the stability of the region.

“By 2001, however, the Forum stated that there was ‘clear evidence of serious transnational crime moving into the region and posing serious threats to the sovereignty, security and economic integrity of forum members.’

“These threats included money laundering, terrorist recruitment, identity fraud, West African fraud, people smuggling, issuing passports of convenience, engaging in electronic crimes, small arms trafficking, illegally trading in endangered wildlife, drug trafficking and organised crime.”

It is now 2018 and while the Solomon Islands has been guarded and so far avoided most, if not all, the threats envisaged by Mr. Boister, with the exception, perhaps, of border incursions and illegal trading in wildlife, and excluding the tragic years of the internal conflict know as the ‘Tensions,” the authorities must remain highly vigilant and I will raise just three incidents in the past few days in neighbouring states to highlight my concerns.

It was said the Police in Tonga had seized 58 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of US14.8 million dollars, during an operation in the Ha’apai Islands.

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Likewise, the authorities in Fiji seized $US15 million worth of cocaine and ecstacy from a yacht.

“The police and customs authority said the yacht, which last stopped at Bora Bora in French Polynesia, was searched at Denarau last Thursday.

“They found 15 kilograms of cocaine and ecstasy on board, $US15, 000 in undeclared cash, along with guns and ammunition.

Today, Thursday, also in Fiji, the police arrested a foreign national and charged him with bringing a large stack of ammunition into Fiji waters that had been found on his yacht.

It was reported that Fiji Customs Officers had searched yacht and that led to the seizure of a large quantity of mixed ammunition.

Today, economic and environmental concerns must not dominate security precautions and preparedness by the relevant authorities in the Solomon Islands to contain any potential threats that could arise to national sovereignty and security

Yours sincerely

 

Frank Short

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