26 June, 2018, 10:30 am
FIJI is possibly the staging point for dealers who want their drugs delivered to other countries.
Confirming this in an interview yesterday, the director general for the National Security and Defence Review Committee, Timoci Natuva, said the prevalence of ice (methamphetamine) at Fiji’s borders had increased.
Mr Natuva said with this becoming a big issue and a hard fight, the committee was trying to make new laws and policies in its bid to ensure our borders remained safe.
“So we’re trying to make laws and policies to go through fines, we have to do that in order to safeguard the security in Fiji,” Mr Natuva said.
He said when yachts and vessels entered our exclusive economic zones (EEZ), they would deliberately inform our border agencies that their automatic identification system (AIS) were not properly working.
“There are systems in place when vessels and yachts come into our EEZ, they have a transponder system AIS where our Navy and Customs are monitoring their entering,” he said.
“There are issues where they come to ports to identify themselves when they are in Fiji because they have immigrations and Customs that they have to go through and they say there AIS was not responding because what happens is, these yachts or vessels, they can go and deposit what they are carrying illegally in other areas and then come to the ports for clearance.”
He said these issues needed to have an integrated approach between different border agency stakeholders in order to safeguard the nation.
“Before they were working individually in silos, immigration, Customs, military were doing their own thing and there was no chance for them to co-ordinate together,” he said
“These are different ministries and we don’t have the authority at the secretariat, we have to get the Prime Minister to endorse that it’s really urgent that we correlate to work together in order to safeguard the nation.”
Mr Natuva added for intercepting drugs or any illegal items that were being smuggled into our borders, a joint regional operation was engaged to deal with such issues.
“We are working with INTERPOL, New Zealand Defence, Customs and Immigration, Australian Defence, it’s a regional approach of sharing of information together then they’ll try to pinpoint areas where they can cease that rather than working individually,” he said.
“So if the drugs start coming from a place then they monitor where it’s going and updates on what is happening. It might take a couple of months before the time is right and then they seize it.”