Transnational crime continues to be a human and economic threat in the Pacific and combating it remains a high priority for law enforcement agencies in the region.

'It is clear from the variety of investigations in 2007 that the region is targeted by individuals and groups attempting to undertake a range of transnational crime activities," says Peter Forau, Acting Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat when opening the 2008 Forum Regional Security Committee meeting at the Secretariat in Suva, Fiji today.

"Illicit narcotics including cocaine, heroin, amphetamine precursors and cannabis have been seized from Papua New Guinea and through major tourist centres of Vanuatu and Fiji and across to French Polynesia," says Mr Forau.

"All communities are open to attack from transnational crime and the 2008 Pacific Transnational Crime Assessment report highlights the range of criminal activities in the Pacific region and notes that legislation and capacity remain the primary impediments to effective law enforcement."

The Transnational Crime Assessment report is one of several reports on the security issues affecting the Pacific region being presented and discussed at the two-day meeting.

Security is one of the four pillars of the Pacific Plan endorsed by Pacific Forum Leaders in 2005. The others are economic growth, good governance and sustainable development.

"While I do not believe that any one of these pillars is more important that the other, it is a reasonable point to make that economic growth, good governance and sustainable development cannot occur in an environment of political and security instability," says Mr Forau.

Key achievements under the Security pillar over the past 12 months have included strengthening of maritime safety and security, significant progress in developing a natural disaster Regional Early Warning Strategy through a process of comprehensive multi-party consultation and progress in addressing the intensifying problems of unchecked urbanization across the Pacific.

The 2008 Forum Regional Security Committee meeting will also discuss other issues including Counter Terrorism, Border Management, Money Laundering, Human Security Issues, Land Management, and contemporary political and security challenges in the region.