Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
Address to officially
open the 20th Pacific
Immigration Directors Conference;
Taumesina Island Resort
I welcome you all to our shores for the 20th Pacific Immigration Directors Conference. I am particularly pleased that this conference is taking place in Apia, following the accomplishment of the milestones for the P.I.D.C, including the signing of its Host Country Headquarters Agreement in 2016 which confirmed its entity status as an international organization and the establishment of its Secretariat Head Office in Apia.
These historic milestones are the culmination of the persistent and concerted efforts of the P.I.D.C. family to make this happen and I congratulate all of you for this achievement.
In this connection I wish to thank the Government of New Zealand for offering to co-host with our Government this conference in Apia ahead of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum that Samoa will host in September this year.
The theme of the conference is: Our Waka; or The Modernizing Approaches to the Regional Migration Challenges for a Safe and Prosperous Pacific.
The theme vividly depicts the P.I.D.C. as a united entity, circumnavigating the challenges of migration security in the Pacific. The ever evolving security threats due to organized transnational crimes place all our Pacific states at risk and it is vitally significant that these are properly addressed at all fronts.
The complexity of these crimes requires effective planning, timely response, advanced equipment and collective efforts from all P.I.D.C. member countries.
Undeniable, with the constant advancement and sophistication of electronic communication and information technology, cybercrimes have intensified, placing our electronic systems at enormous security vulnerability and most countries are rapidly falling prey to these and other illegal activities. The ransom-ware is one of the newest digital security challenges that has rapidly grown over the last 12 months. This malware when contracted blocks a computer or encrypts data in systems, making it impossible to access information.
Climate change remains a formidable challenge for Pacific States. The detrimental effects of climate change will cause internal and external displacements to many of our people living on low lying islands. These are serious and complex security concerns which are not easy to address. The Pacific Island Forum leaders have been very proactive in pushing for concerted response to climate change at the regional and international levels.
The Paris Agreement and the Green Climate Fund are some of the profound outcomes of these efforts. I am very pleased to see that the P.I.D.C. through its strategic plan will position itself in the future to become the coordinating center in the Pacific for migration liaison, with strong emphasis on research, effective and timely information and Intel sharing and assisting member countries to build and improve staff professional development.
It is also encouraging to note that the P.I.D.C. has included labor mobility in its plan, which most of the P.I.D.C. member countries are benefitting from with bilateral agreements with New Zealand and Australia. This is further strengthened by the conclusion of the PACER Plus negotiations.
This conference therefore presents an imperative platform for the exchange and discussion of issues of mutual interest, share experiences and information in bolstering migration security in the Pacific.
It is an opportunity to further harness regional and international partnership to improving understanding of global migration issues, strengthening members’ territorial borders and ensuring the integrity of their border management systems to combat migration security challenges.
Samoa is committed to stand together with organization such as PIDC to address security challenges that we face as a region and to support all efforts to strengthen the security of each nation’s borders.
As host country to the PIDC Secretariat, we welcome every opportunity to dialogue with member countries, and other regional and international partners in advancing our quest against cybercrimes, human trafficking, arms, drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and organized gangs.
Samoa will continue to support the PIDC to deliver its mandate.
I acknowledge the many benefits Samoa has been recipient of as part of the PIDC family including collaborative efforts with neighboring countries in the region, information sharing and valuable assistance through funded professional development trainings provided by the PIDC.
I note that there are currently 19 PIDC member countries; however, there are territories that are not yet part of the PIDC family. It is important that they are encouraged to become part of this regional network in order to jointly develop and maintain a secure, peaceful and prosperous Pacific.
To conclude, I wish you all a successful meeting and deliberations this week. It is vital that the outcomes of this summit could form the basis of the PIDC’s contribution to the PIFS meeting in September on regional security.
Our Va’a will continue to sail through uncharted seas but with God, all things are possible. He will provide wisdom and knowledge to guide us through, if we preserve.
Together, we will make the Pacific secure and prosperous for our people to live in.
May you have a blessed week and please take some time out to see our beautiful islands before you return. Soifua.