The Pacific Regional Law Enforcement Conference (PRLEC) this past week discussed the implications of drug trafficking in the region, community-based approaches to addressing crime, and illegal activity in the maritime domain.
Samoa’s first female Deputy Commissioner Papalii Monalisa Keti attended on behalf of Samoa’s Ministry of Police and Prison.
PINA reported that in the context of illicit drugs, the Pacific is caught between crime syndicates, and the Australian and New Zealand drug markets.
Law enforcement experts outlined that there have been significant increases in the amounts of cocaine seized in the Pacific Island region.
Another driver of criminality in the region discussed was the ongoing forced return of detainees from Australia New Zealand and the U.S to Pacific Islands countries. This exacerbates crime with participants calling on a need for reviews.
Furthermore, PINA reports that in the context of responding to criminal threats more generally, the delegates and speakers discussed the need to ensure that the region brings in the key power structures of each Pacific country and community.
At a community level, these power structures include the Chiefly system, the Church, NGOs, and young people.
These voices are critical in determining the shape and implementation of any response to transnational crime, in its multiple forms, and support of people who have been affected by the implications of drug trafficking.
The discussion turned to the kinds of preventive responses that should be employed including understanding and addressing the root causes; taking a whole society collaborative approach; civic education-consciousness; and empowerment of the vulnerable.
In relation to crime in the maritime domain, the question was asked whether the Pacific Fusion Centre could be an effective solution for information sharing and collaboration.
Further, it was outlined that a barrier to building a network to defeat a network is that different agencies see transnational crime differently.
It is very important for all the agencies including law enforcement, immigration, and customs to harmonise, share information and effectively address the issue together.