‘Border protection is everyone’s business’

Protecting our borders — land, air and sea — from illicit activities such as smuggling, human trafficking and illegal trading is vital to our homeland security, as well as economic prosperity.

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) is committed towards border security. The service continues to collaborate with other border agencies to strengthen border management.

Collaboration with border agencies

This year, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service signed the Fiji Country Plan with the New Zealand Customs Service to improve border management in Fiji.

Improved border management will contribute to economic growth — including the facilitation of legitimate trade and travel as well as improved border security. The plan will not only benefit Fiji but neighbouring countries as well.

The technical assistance that New Zealand Customs provides will assist to enhance capacity and competency to clamp down risks that pose a threat at our borders.

Furthermore, recently the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service along with 24 other World Customs Organisation (WCO) member countries made a commitment to adopt international standards and to share best practices.

This will bring consistency with approaches to international trade along with increased ability to protect our borders.

This collaborative approach will not only curb criminal activities but also enhance investment and trade for economic prosperity.

In April, Customs officers were also part of the HMNZS Hawea deployment into the region. The NZ patrol vessel cadre included Fiji Navy and Ministry of Fisheries officers. The defence vessel patrolled Fiji waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for six months.

It is also important to ensure that our staff members are well equipped with knowledge, technology and attitude, therefore, the Revenue and Customs Service have been collaborating with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Fiji Navy to host newly recruited Customs officers as they go through their induction training.

This training program is a holistic approach to equip Customs officers with the skill sets needed to allow them to protect our borders and facilitate trade and travel as well as providing essential network opportunities with other agencies, which is a core skill when on duty at our borders alongside immigration, biosecurity and health officers.

Challenge

Despite better collaboration and partnership, border management is still one of the great challenges in Fiji.

So how do we maintain border security while encouraging legitimate trade and travel?

Although Customs and other border and defence agencies work together to provide security for Fiji, we can’t do it alone, we need individuals and communities around the whole of the Fiji Islands to support the work we do. We can’t be everywhere.

Research shows that human trafficking is the third largest illegal trade in Fiji. Such illegal trades can often take place in the open sea, along with other criminal activities. This is where we need the assistance of villages in remote areas to become our eyes and ears at the non-traditional and hard to monitor border points.

How you can help?

As a member of the community, your local knowledge makes you ideally placed to identify anything that appears unusual or suspicious.

You can play a vital role in helping us protect our communities from international crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities. If you suspect any unusual activity at the sea, contact Fiji Revenue and Customs Service border control team.

You can help by reporting any suspicious border activity to Customs. All information and details are treated anonymously and in confidence.

What you can do?

* report any suspicious activity by calling 9925764 and 9904091;

* ensure information is clear and accurate.

What you can’t do?

* for your own protection, do not get involved.

* don’t handle or disturb anything as you may disturb evidence.

* do NOT attempt to contact the authorities by RADIO unless there is an emergency, as you may be overheard

What to look for on land, sea, or in the air?

* exotic birds, animal and plant smuggling.

* unusual aircraft movements or activity on remote disused airstrips.

* anyone attempting to land in isolated areas.

* ships signalling ashore or being met by small boats.

* two vessels meeting at sea

* yacht and other vessels sighted in remote areas.

* vessels and other crafts operating at night without light.

* unusual objects at sea, underwater.

Be part of border protection

In a bid to ensure the smooth flow of trade and travel facilitation, FRCS with stakeholders are going to great lengths to protect our borders.

It is also your responsibility as a citizen of this country to help Fiji grow and report any illegal/criminal activities at our borders.

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