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Delegates from Forum member countries began a three day meeting today to discuss the coordination of law enforcement and security cooperation in the region.

In his opening address, the Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Mr. Noel Levi, CBE, noted the lack of progress by Forum Island Countries in enacting the legislative priorities identified under the Honiara Declaration.

These cover issues such as extradition, mutual assistance in criminal matters, forfeiture of the proceeds of crime and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

"Progress in this area will assist in establishing a regional legislative framework to combat transnational crime," Mr. Levi said.

"I would therefore urge you all at this meeting to have a frank and constructive discussion on the reasons for the lack of implementation, and consider ways of moving forward so that the deadline of the year 2000 can be met," he said.

The annual Forum Regional Security Committee meeting also includes representatives from specialist law enforcement agencies such as the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference (SPCPC); Customs Heads of Administration Regional Meeting (CHARM); Pacific Island Law Officers Meeting (PILOM); Pacific Immigration Directors Conference (PIDC) as well as a number of other regional organizations.

At the 1997 South Pacific Forum in the Cook Islands last September, Forum Leaders endorsed the Aitutaki Declaration on Regional Security Cooperation in the South Pacific.

The Declaration broadened the framework of the security environment in the region beyond traditional law enforcement issues to include natural disasters, transnational crime, other unwanted financial activities, unlawful challenges to national integrity, and economic and environmental emergencies caused by external events. These issues will be among the topics for consideration by the Forum Regional Security Committee.

The committee will also consider a number of other agenda items relating to law enforcement and security in the region.

Among the initiatives endorsed by the Forum in the past is a five year program of assistance for law enforcement agencies. It will assist member countries to develop national drug policies and enact appropriate legislation consistent with the United Nations 1988 Convention Against Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The program will also help to train officers in the detection, investigation and prosecution of cross border crimes linked to major financial fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering and the movement of contraband.

The regional security committee meeting is being held at the Forum Secretariat headquarters in Suva, Fiji.

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