Vanuatu has applied to join the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, revealed the application was made this week.
“The principle reason is “probity checks” being carried out by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) were proving to be deficient, particularly as concerns people applying to buy Vanuatu citizenship under the Development Support Program (DSP) and people applying to be nominated as Honorary Consuls,” Minister Regenvanu told Daily Post.
“The FIU was able to pick up financial irregularities but not non-financial irregularities, including past or potential criminal behaviour and associations.
“By joining INTERPOL, the FIU and our police will be able to access the international INTERPOL database as part of the probity check process, and for other purposes, which will provide much better information to vet persons concerned.”
In a letter to the INTERPOL Secretariat, Minister Regenvanu stated that the Vanuatu Government is strongly committed to protecting the security of its people and the sovereignty of its borders from the impacts of transnational crime.
The Minister advised that the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) is already a proud member of the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN), whose aim is to detect, investigate and disrupt transnational crime in the region.
“The Republic of Vanuatu’s acceptance as an INTERPOL member will further strengthen the VPF’s ability to cooperate with international law enforcement agencies in the combined effort to dismantle transnational and organised crime syndicates on a global scale,” Minister Regenvanu stated in the letter, on behalf of the Vanuatu Government to the INTERPOL Secretariat.
He said the Government of Vanuatu willingly assumes all obligations and responsibilities expected from the INTERPOL membership, and formally endorses the VPF to be the responsible body to perform all functions of an Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) within Vanuatu.
“I would therefore greatly appreciate of this application could be supported for consideration by the INTERPOL General Assembly at its earliest convenience,” he concluded.
The NCB would be accommodated within the National Intelligence Unit (NIU) under the Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) and will be responsible for all international cooperation, country-level coordination and liaison with other government departments within Vanuatu to fulfill all requirements of a NCB.
“Very briefly, it means that Vanuatu is plugged into a global policing network, which brings benefits and obligations mainly around exchange of information,” said Dr Tess Newton Cain, principal of TNC Pacific Consulting when she was contacted yesterday for her views on the implications, in particular what Vanuatu stands to gain and lose if it becomes a member.
Dr. Cain, who is an expert in Criminal Law added: “I imagine it would make Vanuatu look better from a Counter Terrorism Financing and Anti Money Laundering point of view. There could be a concern that our police resources get side tracked into dealing with INTERPOL requests”.
She noted that INTERPOL has a training and capacity building arm so Vanuatu may be able to benefit from that.
The INTERPOL Membership Application provides information on the country becoming an Independent State, its Territory and Population, the Government and its capacity to enter International Relations – Vanuatu is a member of 39 International Forums and Intergovernmental organisations.
It affirms that Vanuatu has closely studied and understands the INTERPOL Constitution, regulations and membership requirements under Article 2-7 and 31-33 and it pledges to uphold and respect all provisions of the INTERPOL Constitution, Regulations and Rules, including not limited to INTERPOL Rules on the Processing of Data, in order to effectively contribute to the INTERPOL law enforcement community in combating ordinary law crime.
INTERPOL enables police in its 192 member countries to work together to fight international crime, providing a range of policing expertise and capabilities.
It supports three main crime programmes: Counter-terrorism, Cybercrime, and Organized and emerging crime.
According to the INTERPOL website, Fiji and Nauru have been members since 1971, Papua New Guinea since 1976, Tonga since 1979, Samoa since 2009 and Solomon Islands since 2017.