Workshop to help strengthen border security, surveillance

Participants of the Table Top Exercise for all Border Agencies in Fiji workshop at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay yesterday. Picture ATU RASEA

FIJI’S border agencies are in need of local and international assistance to address issues affecting our security, says Timoci Natuva, the director general for the National Security and Defence Review Committee.

Mr Natuva said it was imperative to create a legal framework and a standard operating procedure (SOP) for our border agencies. He said through the assistance of the Australian Border Force, the workshop would help participants discuss ways on how Fiji could strengthen its border surveillance.

“This workshop is a table topping exercise to test all the legal issues because every individual agency has its own legal issues in the way they do things,” Mr Natuva said during the opening of a three-day workshop for border agencies in Fiji at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay convention centre in Lami yesterday.

“We need all the people of Fiji to come up with information, without information we cannot do much and we rely on information from individuals, from the islands if there are yachts coming in without being cleared. They have to be reported to us.”

He said plans to introduce the fusion cell concept would help border agencies to conduct their work efficiently.

“We are having new platforms now like the arrival of Kikau, the new ships coming in from Australia, a bigger vessel coming from China at the end of this year. We will be able to lay the platform, we are looking at technologies of how we can be able to know what’s happening out there.

“That is why we need assistance from Australia, NZ, France, New Caledonia to help us with this new platform.

“With our fusion cell we will be able to have a call free number where everybody can just call if there are incidences where yachts or people coming into the islands or something that is not normal it needs to be reported to us and I want to reiterate what the Police Commissioner said that we need information from individuals if there is something that is happening that is not right or isn’t normal. They have to report to police, to us or any of the agencies because we have to work together on this.”

Meanwhile, Commander James Watson, Regional Director Pacific, Australian Border Force said the increase in international trade and new markets opening posed a major threat to our borders.

“No doubt with the increase in international trade, online markets opening up all of the great things that the internet and travel gives us puts a great strain on our border agencies to be able to do their work,” Mr Watson said.

“So now more than ever is the time that we need to come together and co-operate and work together to achieve the outcome of protecting our people, providing that secure and prosperous society and that is something that we in Australia work very hard to do and we are so delighted to be part of the work that Fiji is doing.”

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