OFFICIALS from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have joined members of the Papua New Guinea immigration department to find ways to counter people smuggling.

The officials carried out a five-day fact finding mission to the remote Sandaun (West Sepik) province, bordering Indonesia, to find new ways to help the PNG Government counteract this crime.

The mission looked at all aspects of smuggling, including illicit movement of people and goods, smuggling routes, surveillance systems, border management and people-to-people contacts, IOM said.

The findings of the assessment will shape the recommendations to the government on future actions to combat the problem.

IOM counter smuggling specialist Greg Mills said coordination with local people was crucial to finding solutions to the problem.

“We are finding that there is a strong awareness of people smuggling in village communities, in provincial administration and among national agency staff working in the province,” he said.

The assessment is part of a wider counter smuggling program funded by the Canadian government which aims to help PNG law enforcement authorities enforce people trafficking laws.

These laws were introduced in November last year, giving tools to the PNG government to create a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations.

Over the next three months IOM will also conduct training and develop a manual for agencies involved in border management.

CBSA regional director for Southeast Asia Claude St Denis said people smuggling and trafficking had tragic consequences for vulnerable people and was a source of funding for criminal organisations.

“Government enforcement agencies and organisations such as IOM need to work together to prevent and deter these illegal activities,” he said.

The program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) and implemented by IOM.