Monday, 8 September 2008 8:50 AM

Cruise Ships, Transnational Crimes Worry Region's Police

The region's police are worried about the increasing number of cruise ships entering region which is leading to the increase in crime.

According to the Samoa Observer Online, this concern was expressed at the 37th annual meeting of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP).
A communiqué issued after the meeting expressed concern about the "potential criminal behaviour of some passengers and how police jurisdictions will deal with this behaviour".

The meeting, held in Apia with the theme of "Navigating Future Currents Together", resulted in Police chiefs committing 'resources to review this potential problem and work with the cruise ship industry to find solutions'.

According to the report, the 'Chiefs continue to support a range of activities to enhance the response capability and management of information and intelligence to combat transnational crime in the region'.

In the same note, earlier in the week, Fiji's Police Commissioner, Esala Teleni, spoke of the need to control his country's border patrol.
According to Fiji Times Online, Commissioner Teleni mentioned prostitution on the high seas, pedophilic activity and reports of human trafficking through visiting yachts and foreign fishing vessels as an indication of this need.

According to the Commissioner, 'they have received several reports of illegal activities on foreign vessels from some of those involved' and there have been 'some cases of pedophilia being reported'.

'"We have received reports of prostitutes in the high seas, we have also received reports that children from the islands are taken on board to watch movies'.

'Mr Teleni said the other major concern is the increase in the cultivation of marijuana which may correlate to an increase in demand from foreign vessel owners'.

'According to Mr Teleni, the geographically remote distribution of Fiji's islands is a major challenge', which is a similar problem faced by other nations in the region.

"We have fishing vessels transiting, we have fishing vessels that come to our ports for bunkering and we have foreign fishing vessels based locally and may have contacts or agencies abroad, so it's really open, our seas are really open to exploitation."

Fiji's yacht owners have replied to Commissioner Teleni's statements saying that the issues are a homegrown problem and not that of international yacht owners.

But Commissioner Teleni's statements are similar sentiments that have been echoed by other governments in the region who also face the same problem. However, as always, there are always two sides to an issue and cruise ships and yachts all bring in much needed revenue to the region. The issue then is that with all the traffic, there is the need to regulate it but most, if not all, countries in the region simply are not able to afford the high costs of having to patrol their areas and monitor all activities. And of course, the geographical locations of the islands in the region also make it virtually impossible to monitor all activities taking place in the high seas.
And it must also be remembered that not all visiting foreign vessels engage in such activities. It is the few who do that cause the problems which become major issues for countries that are not only small and remote but are lacking the resources to be able to deal with the problem.


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