PRESS RELEASE - 27th January 2011

Responding to Forum Leaders' concerns at the threat of transnational crime in the Pacific, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), in partnership with the Oceania Customs Organisation Secretariat (OCO), the Pacific Immigration Directors' Conference (PIDC) and the Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC), is providing border control training to Vanuatu officials from 26-27 January 2011 in Port Vila.

At the Port Vila Forum Leaders' meeting in August 2010, Leaders highlighted that transnational crime remains a threat to national and regional stability requiring effective action by national law enforcement agencies, continuing regional cooperation and demanding high level political commitment to combat the threat. Given a key component of responding to transnational crime is the protection of national borders, the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) had also supported the delivery of both national and regional training to strengthen border controls in the Pacific.

In welcoming participants, Mr Rick Nimmo, Director of Political Governance and Security in PIFS, noted the significant complexity of protecting the region's borders, while respecting the rights of travelers and facilitating global trade and communications.

Mr Nimmo said: "It requires us to ensure there is a strong front-line of committed and skilled officers at border control points, supported by appropriate resources and effective regulations and policies. Political and community support for the vital role which border control officers contribute to national security is essential."

He also highlighted that all forms of cross-border and transnational crime are an increasing concern to national jurisdictions and regional law enforcement agencies and, in addition to national efforts, it requires strengthened regional cooperation and collaboration between all relevant authorities.

In officially opening the training program, Mr George Bogari, Director General of the Vanuatu Ministry of Internal Affairs and current chair of the PIDC, thanked regional organisations for their efforts to assist Vanuatu manage its border control responsibilities.

Mr Bogari noted that the training has been designed to focus on transferring practical skills and knowledge in support of the Pacific Plan's security pillar and in pursuit of the goals set down by regional leaders.

He said the main objective of the training was to enhance capacity, promote policy integration and strengthen inter-agency cooperation to ensure a collaborative approach among the key law enforcement agencies such as Customs, Police, Immigration and other agencies carrying out border control activities including in the aviation and maritime sectors.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) through its Political Governance and Security Programme, in collaboration with its partner regional agencies, is also planning to deliver border control training to a number of other Forum members which have requested such assistance. National capacity building and improvements in regional law enforcement cooperation remain a key priority for the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional agencies. This reflects ongoing commitments by Forum Leaders, including through the 1992 Honiara Declaration to strengthen law enforcement cooperation, the 1997 Aitutaki Declaration to enhance regional law enforcement and the 2002 Nasonini Declaration to combat transnational crime and terrorism, including priority objectives identified in the Pacific Plan.