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Concerns over dirty cops

A worrying trend is appearing across some Pacific islands with reports of police being involved in aiding crime appearing more frequently.

Last week the Pacific Chiefs of Police met in Fiji and one of the issues discussed was combating corruption and deterring police officers from becoming part of organised crime activities.

It seems the problem is more widespread and more than just policy intervention is needed. In Papua New Guinea, three police officers were arrested for trying to smuggle 450 kilograms of marijuana and two unregistered firearms.

The three were caught after a roadblock was set up and a police vehicle was being used to transport the drugs and guns.

Police in Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea, three police officers were arrested for trying to smuggle 450 kilograms of marijuana and two unregistered firearms. Picture: Royal PNG Constabulary

According to police in PNG, more people were arrested who are believed to be part of a bigger network.

In Fiji, police chief Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho admitted that a range of narcotics including meth have been taken from exhibit or evidence rooms and sold back on streets.

He said by tightening up this process, officers won’t be tempted to take out drugs kept as exhibits and the handling of illicit substances will be done in a transparent and accountable manner.

He reiterated that officers who are working against efforts of combating the illicit drug trade have no place in the institution.

Mr Qiliho said such involvement undermines the integrity of the policing profession and tarnishes the reputation and hard work put in by thousands of police officers who are committed to fighting the war on drugs.

Fiji Police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho and defence minister Inia Seruiratu. Police chief Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho admitted that a range of narcotics including meth have been taken from exhibit or evidence rooms and sold back on streets. Picture: Fiji Police Force

On the streets of Fiji, drug sellers said they knew a few police officers who were dealing in drugs. Fiji Police are yet to respond to questions on this issue.

In Tonga, it has been found that some police officers were involved in helping to facilitate the delivery of drugs to New Zealand.

Also at the meeting of police chiefs, Fijian defence minister Inia Seruiratu highlighted the need for police officers to be exemplary.

MORE STORIES:
Fiji fights drugs and bad cops
The Pacific’s drug highway

“They are not above the rule of law and the citizens expect no less. There are levels of integrity to be upheld by our officers,” he said.

He said corruption and integrity within police forces in the Pacific was something of importance because to fight the external threats of organised transnational crime, the Pacific had to ensure that their police force was not fighting an internal police battle.

According to Transparency International, a survey of 6,000 people across ten Pacific countries and territories highlighted some worrying trends which suggest that corruption remains a very significant challenge.

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