7 Sep 2009

Pacific facing growing threat from people traffickers

7:38 pm on 7 September 2009

An advisor to New Zealand's Department of Labour says cases of people smuggling and human trafficking in the Pacific could increase as other regions clamp down on the practice.

Api Fiso, the department's chief advisor on border sector engagements, says a case last year where a group of Indian men ended up living in poor conditions after paying thousands of dollars to work in Niue, is an example of the exploitation occurring in the region.

He says the number of cases in the Pacific currently numbers in the hundreds, but this could grow if authorities elsewhere make it more difficult to traffic people.

"As other areas of the world strengthen their efforts to combat people smuggling and human trafficking, the Pacific region could become more vulnerable as a transit point to other destinations as there is an increasing number of movements of people from country to country and across borders."

Api Fiso says Pacific countries are trying to combat the problem by raising awareness, developing action plans, and gathering and sharing information.