Call to strengthen border control

Tuesday June 04, 2019 Written by Published in National

Cook Islands traditional leaders are calling on authorities to strengthen border control in a bid to curtail methamphetamine (meth) coming into the country.

 

There are reports of the hard drug believed to be shipped in illegally from New Zealand.

Paul Allsworth, president of the Koutu Nui, said their organisation of traditional leaders were supporting all the views provided by the public on this growing and silent epidemic in the Cook Islands.

Allsworth said the Koutu Nui and the aronga mana believes that government must provide the necessary resources to combat the problem.

He suggested that government ask its New Zealand counterpart and authorities to strengthen border control and surveillance of ports and airports.

Allsworth also said the government should provide additional staff and resources to the local Customs and border control authorities, in order to carry out more thorough inspections of all air freight cargo and personal effects and sea freight containers and goods.

“The attack on the meth and drugs problem has to be a multi-agency effort across key ministries and agencies, the private sector and communities,” Allsworth said.

He also agreed there was a need for a task force to be established by the government to counter the growing meth problem in the Cook Islands.

“Our Police and Customs officials can only do so much given their limited resources. Government therefore needs to allocate additional funds to establish a task force with key law enforcement officials and social agencies to drive this initiative,” Allsworth said.

CI News believes the establishment of a task force has been suggested to the Office of the Prime Minister and the minister responsible for Justice.

Currently there are two task forces – the Combined Law Agency Group and the Cook Islands National Intelligence Task Force – responsible for responding to national issues and emergencies including investigations of serious crimes such as illicit drugs.

New Zealand Police minister Stuart Nash earlier told this newspaper his government was ready to assist local authorities in the battle against substance abuse in the Cook Islands.

“If we are asked to help out, because obviously we are not going to come and tell you what to do, I think you will find that the New Zealand Police Service is willing to help,” Nash said.

“We talked (about meth) in our joint ministerial dialogue and we talked about the fact that if help is required then I’m sure we can help.”

CI News is also in the process of forming a leadership group to help address the meth problem here.

Leave a comment