Protecting our Borders

Screening people and goods entering and leaving our country is a fundamental task assigned to border control agencies. Screening and pre-arrival assessment are some of the key functions carried out
25 Nov 2017 11:00
Protecting our Borders
Fiji Revenue and Customs Service chief executive officer Visvanath Das.

Screening people and goods entering and leaving our country is a fundamental task assigned to border control agencies.

Screening and pre-arrival assessment are some of the key functions carried out by the border guardians. Inbound cargo is screened through a number of processes aimed at reducing uncertainty of risk associated with unknown shippers and shipments.

Borders and ports of entry are the entrance and exit points for all people, goods and crafts entering or departing a country.

Controlling borders and ports of entries are vital in order to ensure the rule of law and prevent or disrupt the flow of criminal activity.

All borders, whether seaports or airports are vulnerable to this threat.

Technology is an essential component in the effort to prevent smuggling across our borders via any pathway. Technology can help identify any threats while facilitating legitimate transactions.

Targeting systems or processes can utilize information databases to assist with this assessment as can information sharing domestically or internationally with other Law Enforcement Agencies.

Border threat

Fiji is not immune to drugs and other smuggling threats, given that we are located in the centre of the Pacific and act as the transit point for a number of countries.

Customs have stationed experienced Officers at our border points to profile passengers and cargo before they enter into Fiji, in order to identify and mitigate the risk of illegal activities.

Assets to support our staff include our Detector Dog Unit at Nadi and Suva, drug detection equipment’s and X-ray equipment which is used for in-depth screening of baggage, cargo and mails.

Pallet X- Ray machine

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service now has a Pallet X-Ray Scanner at the Nadi International Airport.

The Pallet X-Ray is cutting edge technology and has dual-view design which means that images of both vertical and horizontal views is shown on monitoring screens, so that the equipment Operator can effectively eliminate the uncertainty caused by object overlapping or other screening obstructions and better identify the cargo content.

This technology will mean better detection capability and therefore less need for physical examination due to the ability to target and identify risk items more readily which in turn will allow for speedier clearances of cargo.

Counterfeit Goods and Medicines

The sale of counterfeit goods and medicines has become an important profit-machine for transnational crime syndicates, accounting for about one-third of the value of transnational crime flows, according to the reports from the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime. In total, contraband markets in the Asia Pacific Region are valued at about $90 billion and are broken down into four categories: human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, illicit drugs, specifically heroin and methamphetamine, counterfeit goods and fraudulent medicines.

About 75 per cent of the counterfeit products seized worldwide from 2008 to 2010 were made in East Asia, primarily China, according to the World Customs Organisation.

Fake goods can pose serious risks to unsuspecting consumers, as they are often of poor or unknown quality and do not undergo proper safety testing, this is particularly dangerous if the goods are for human consumption.

K9 Uni

FRCS also has its own Detector Dog Unit based at Nadi and Suva. The Nadi unit so far has been instrumental in intercepting cases of hard drugs such as Methamphetamine and other contrabands amounting to millions of dollars while the Suva unit has just commenced operations.

Detected items other than hard drugs includes cannabis, steroids, Ephedrine (a methamphetamine precursor) and liquid products used for producing explosives. The K9 unit also has the capacity to detect currencies and so far has helped stop thousands of dollars from illegally crossing our border.

The K9 unit compliments the non-intrusive inspection (scanning) and physical checks carried out by customs officers. They are an extremely valuable asset in helping us to protect our borders.

The highly trained dogs can detect narcotics, firearms, weapons, explosives, cash and many other dangerous items and materials. They are trained to find illegal items hidden in containers, luggage, vehicles, packages, and on people.

With an ability to quickly screen a large volume of people or goods crossing our borders, our detector dog’s capabilities mean that including them in the layers of Fiji’s risk detection tools will enhance the overall security of our border and that of neighbouring countries as well.

The K9 Unit [which is a collaborative unit including the Fiji Police] comprises of eight (8) sniffer dogs and handlers who were trained by experts from the New Zealand Customs Service.

Passenger, cargo and craft profiling

We are continuously working to enhance our risk profiling capabilities around passengers and goods and craft.

This capability is critical to ensure legitimate trade and travel is facilitated while illicit trade and travel is detected and managed appropriately. Advance information around people, goods and craft is critical and a core component of our risk identification strategy.

The Customs Intelligence teams work closely with frontline staff to ensure information is assessed and intelligence flows quickly to assist with risk identification, management and compliance activity across all import and export pathways. Such profiling is used extensively by our Nadi Border Compliance Team who are a newly created team dedicated to targeted interventions ensuring passengers and craft utilizing Nadi Airport are compliant with Fiji’s laws. This team has identified multiple incursions including currency smuggling, skimming crime groups, drugs and other undeclared goods.

We are currently building our Maritime Compliance capability through the creation of a dedicated team based in Suva with national responsibilities.

Stakeholder engagement

We can’t achieve border security alone and we are continuously working with other key Agencies and stakeholders like Bio-Security Authority of Fiji, Navy, Ministry of Health, Department of

Immigration, Airports Fiji Limited, Air Terminal Services and the Fiji Police Force to make our border safe and secure. We have no doubt that the initiative of Community Policing or

Community Partnership also plays a very critical role in the safety and security of our borders.

This is our shared responsibility.

In addition to screening, inspection, regulation and interdiction, we gather information from our stakeholders that assists us in better carrying out our priority mission of ensuring the security and prosperity of the nation.

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