FORUM SECRETARY GENERAL LEVI

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PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT Suva, Fiji Islands

 

PRESS STATEMENT February 28, 2002

WELCOMES PEOPLE SMUGGLING AGREEMENTS

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr. W. Noel Levi, CBE has welcomed the agreements reached by Ministers from the Asia Pacific region to curb people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes.

He was speaking from Bali, Indonesia at the end of the Ministerial Conference on the theme of people smuggling, which has attracted about 53 countries from around the world. Mr. Levi said that the Australia-Indonesia initiative was a very positive and successful forum bringing the issues to a high political level in the Asia Pacific region.

"We are pleased that the efforts which are already been undertaken by the Pacific Islands Forum, under the auspices of various Declarations, such as Honiara, Aitutaki and Biketawa, have been given due recognition and prominence.

"I urge our members to advance the issues to stop criminal organizations involved in people smuggling, arms and drug smuggling and other illegal activities affecting our region," he said.

Mr. Levi said that the attendance at the conference by several Forum members, including high level representation from the current Chairman of the Forum, Nauru and the incoming Chairman, Fiji, and from international organisations and other agencies signals firm commitment. The Prime Minister of Samoa represented Samoa.

"We are pleased that the agreement on follow-up mechanisms to the conference includes the Forum processes, such as the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC).

"This is where we have been cooperating amongst ourselves and we can remain confident that our ongoing and future initiatives will be essential to the objectives of this ministerial conference and the global strategy to fight people smuggling and transnational crimes," he said.

Mr. Levi said that New Zealand's recent adoption of legislation to criminalize smugglers and traffickers of people and deter those networks from using our region as a soft target demonstrates a strong commitment to move beyond words and into meaningful measures at the domestic level.

The next FRSC is scheduled for June this year. It is expected that Australia, as co-Chair, will bring the outcomes of the meeting to the FRSC for further consideration.

Forum members that attended were Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Bali Meeting was co-Chaired by the Foreign Ministers from Australia and Indonesia. The Forum Secretariat was invited as an Observer.

§ Pacific Islands Forum

The Forum, under the auspices of its Declaration, namely the Honiara Declaration, the Aitutaki Declaration and the Biketawa Declaration, has agreed that it will enhance arrangements to share information, establish cooperative working mechanisms and expand programs to improve technical capacity to combat people smuggling and trafficking in persons, in concert with other transnational crimes such as terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, international economic crime and piracy.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at UlafalaA@forumsec.org.fj 

Ulafala Aiavao Media Adviser Forum Secretariat Private Bag Suva, Fiji

Tel: (679) 220 220 Mob: (679) 998 674 Fax: (679) 305 554 Email: UlafalaA@forumsec.org.fj  Web: www.forumsec.org.fj  Mirror site: http://chacmool.sdnp.undp.org/pacific/forumsec/default1.htm 

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