23 Feb 2004

Pacific advised to avoid being seen as a soft touch for criminals and terrorists

4:18 pm on 23 February 2004

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, says there's a need to ensure that the Pacific is not seen as a soft touch for organised crime and international terrorism.

Mr Goff was speaking at a conference on small island states in Wellington today.

Mr Goff says destabilising influences confronting the Pacific include international terrorisim, drug running, illicit small arms, money laundering, people smuggling, trade in endangered species and identity fraud.

He says organised crime is becoming more sophisticated and Pacific states face international requirements to tighten border security.

He says these requirements are increasingly tied to trade.

Mr Goff says law enforcement agencies must co-ordinate and constantly review their efforts as organised crime tries to evade systems and laws.

He says complying with counter-terrorism frameworks will stretch the capacity of individual Pacific island governments.

And, he says there's a tension in the region between encouraging better governance while also recognising the sovereignty of individual countries.