16 Jun 2004

Pacific security chiefs told that the region is attractive to international crime gangs

1:54 pm on 16 June 2004

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Greg Urwin, has told the Forum Regional Security Committee meeting in Nadi that transnational organised crime in the region is evolving to meet new needs and activities.

He says these organised crime groups are flexible and in pursuit of a market, involving a variety of commodities such as drugs, people, weapons, or for the purpose of money laundering, fraudulent schemes, identity fraud or terrorist related activities, and they have the capability to diversify.

Mr Urwin told the delegates that after last week's huge drugs bust in Fiji, there can be little doubt the region is being targeted for criminal activities.

He says it is being targeted because it lacks strong uniform laws and because of the inadequacies in its human, financial and technical resources.

The Forum head says the challenges to governance in the Pacific, posed by corruption, increasing poverty and lawlessness, also make parts of the region attractive to transnational organised crime.

And he says the vulnerability of the Pacific to transnational organised crime means that it is also vulnerable to terrorist activities, because it's clear that these crime networks can also maintain and fund terrorist activities.