UN Report: Pacific Increasingly Used By Transnational Criminals As Drug Transit Point

'Spillover' of illicit drugs moving between Asia and Australia, NZ is troubling

By Matilda Simmons

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 23, 2016) – A UN report says the Pacific is increasingly used as a transit point for drug trafficking as well as being vulnerable to exploitation by transnational organised crime.

Inshik Sim, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime analyst, said methamphetamine and precursor chemicals from Asia, and cocaine from the Americas, were trafficked to and through Pacific Island countries en route to Australia and New Zealand, and other destinations.

"There is also evidence of 'spillover' of illicit drugs into Pacific Island countries. They (Pacific Islands) do not have the infrastructure or programs to deal with illicit drug use," the report said.

The findings were revealed after a first ever UN report titled "Transnational Organised Crime (TOC) in the Pacific: A Threat Assessment", was launched yesterday to examine major illicit trafficking flows and issues in the region.

The report also identified some factors that facilitated illicit transnational activities affecting the region.

"The Pacific is increasingly integrated and connected with other regions, especially Asia, but also the Americas," said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

"Connecting with the rest of the world can be positive from a development perspective, but it also means that the region is more susceptible to accompanying crime and security challenges."

The report also examines illegal fisheries and logging in the Pacific, highlighting how related illicit activities and trafficking threatened sustainability and the livelihoods of people and communities in the region.

Andie Fong Toy, deputy secretary general of the PIFS, said trafficking in persons for labour exploitation sometimes occurred in logging camps and on commercial fishing vessels operating in the Pacific.

She added the geographical location of Pacific island countries makes them a possible transit point for smuggling of migrants and trafficking of people into Australia, New Zealand and the US, including with falsified passports and travel documents.

Fiji Times Online.
Copyright © 2016 Fiji Times Online. All Rights Reserved

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