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PNG ‘susceptible to rapid increase of transnational crime’ – Research

Wednesday 28 February 2024 | Written by RNZ | Published in Papua New Guinea, Regional


The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government needs to do more work to address transnational crime in the country.

New research published by PNG's National Research Institute (PNGNRI) has found that transnational crime - "criminal activities that surpass borders, boundaries, jurisdictions, and nations" - has adverse impact on the levels of investment and employment opportunities in PNG.

Author of the report Julian Melpa said some of the key transnational crimes in PNG include human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, firearm smuggling, drug smuggling, artifacts smuggling, and maritime piracy.

The author conducted desktop research, reviewing secondary sources relating to transnational crime from 2002 to 2023 and found "numerous enabling factors" for transnational crimes to take place, such as weak governance structures, corruption, improved technology, poverty, and geographical location.

"Papua New Guinea's geographical location plays a significant role in enabling transnational crime. The country shares borders with Indonesia to the west, Australia to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the southeast. It is situated in the southwestern Pacific region," he writes.

"Due to its location, PNG serves as a transit point for smuggling firearms, drugs, trafficking wildlife, marine piracy, and other transnational crimes across borders. The country poses a high risk for the uncontrolled movement of people and goods by land and sea, as its borders are largely open.

"Papua New Guinea's strategic location makes it susceptible to the rapid increase of transnational crime along its borders with Indonesia."

The author said PNG "offers a conducive environment for the growth of transnational criminal activities", adding that "Addressing [enabling factors] is crucial in effectively combating transnational crime and ensuring the safety and well-being of the country and its people."

Melpa has made several policy recommendations for the government, including capacity building of law enforcement agencies involved in crime management, recruiting more experts in the field of transnational crime management, and upgrading facilities for law enforcement, among others.