2014 Pacific Immigration Directors Annual Conference CommuniquePosted On: Sunday, 23 November 2014
The 17th Pacific Immigration Director's Conference (PIDC) was convened in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, on 29 April - 01 May 2014. The theme of the conference was "Economic Growth and National Development through Skilled Entry Programmes". Thirty Five delegates from 17 Pacific Island countries attended including Papua New Guinea (Chair), Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Niue, Norfolk Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The conference also welcomed representatives of observer organisations from the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Intra-Migration Facility, Canadian Border Services (CBS), Canada Immigration and Citizenship, the Bali Process Regional Support Office (RSO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Apologies were received from French Polynesia, New Caledonia, the Oceania Customs Organisation and the Pacific Islands Law Officers Network (PILON).
The Conference was opened by the Honourable Mr Rimbink Pato, OBE, LLB, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration who extended a warm welcome to delegates and official observers.
Minister Pato spoke to the 2014 conference theme "Economic Growth and national development through skilled entry programmes". He described how the conference drew together heads and representatives of immigration agencies and partners across the Pacific to advance the PIDCs' objectives of supporting the development of effective and efficient border management agencies, facilitating bona fide travel, addressing irregular migration and combating people smuggling and human trafficking in the region.
He noted with pleasure the theme of skilled migration marking it as an important broadening of focus for the PIDC. He spoke about how Pacific countries could best position migration to achieve government objectives to support national development and economic growth, and highlighted as a key feature the development of the right legislative and policy mechanisms for foreign skilled entry. He highlighted PNG?s work in this area, particularly the undertaking of a comprehensive review of PNG's Migration Act and Regulations.
He noted that a highlight of this year's Annual Conference is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by PIDC Members introducing a new Constitution, marking a historic moment for PIDC that has taken years of careful discussion and deliberation. The Memorandum is an important step towards PIDC attaining legal entity status and will lead to the signing of the Headquarters Arrangement between PIDC and the Government of Fiji which will formally establish the PIDC Secretariat in Fiji.
Statement by the Chair
The Chair, Mr Mataio Rabura, extended his sincere appreciation and thanks to the outgoing Chair from the Cook Islands for her leadership of the PIDC, including the progress made towards legal entity status, since the last Annual Conference in Rarotonga in November 2012.
Mr Rabura described how honoured he was to be Chair of the PIDC at this time in the organisation's history. He predicted that 2014 will be remembered as a landmark moment for the PIDC family because of its establishment as a legal entity and through this achieve a greater degree of independence.
As Chair, Mr Rabura saw his role as ensuring that the new organisational arrangements and structures are implemented and consolidated. He spoke about his commitment to positioning the Secretariat and the Management Board to be supportive and responsive to the needs of all member countries.
He spoke about the key role immigration agencies played in national development and economic growth through managing the entry of foreign workers to the Pacific. He saw PIDC as the pre-eminent regional forum for immigration agencies, critical to effective cooperation and best practice exchange and support as Pacific countries look to improve the effectiveness of their agencies.
Mr Rabura set out his aim as Chair of PIDC over the coming year to ensure the PIDC is an organisation which adds value to and supports all Pacific members.
Issues Considered by the 17th pacific immigration directors conference
Signing of PIDC Memorandum of Understanding
15 states and territories including Australia, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, New Caledonia/Wallis and Futuna, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have signed the PIDC Memorandum of Understanding which introduces its new constitution and enables it to pursue legal entity status under a Headquarters Arrangement with the Fijian government. This is an historical achievement for the organisation as PIDC has been exploring legal entity status options since 2005. The shift to legal entity status is seen by members as the next logical step in the organisation's evolution. It will strengthen and advance its operational effectiveness and create opportunities for future growth that may not otherwise be available. Other Pacific Island states and territories are encouraged to finalise signing of the MoU.
Highlights of the Secretariat?s work in 2013-14 include the successful coordination of five Management Board meetings held successfully in Fiji (2), Tonga, Palau and PNG, the successful delivery of the inaugural PIDC Regional Workshop on Information, communication and technology in Australia, the coordination of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Constitution consultation phase in June 2013, delivery of the Joint Border Protection Training Programme in Niue and Tonga, joint PIDC/UNODC Trafficking Workshop in Suva, finalisation of the PIDC MoU and Constitution, operational secondment programme in Australia, the Advanced Document Examination Training, operational secondment with the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordinating Centre in Apia, signing of the PIDC MoU and finalisation of the PIDC Staff regulations, Rules of Procedure and Financial Regulations.
PIDC Management Board Recommendations
Members noted the achievements of the Management Board during its term from 2012-2014 recognising the effort put into establishing governance structures and documents that will be the foundation for the organisation under its new legal status. The planning and review process leading to the endorsement of these governance documents has set in place transparent and accountable systems and processes that will enable PIDC to grow stronger into the future. Members consequently following a review of the Management Boards recommendation endorsed the PIDC financial regulations, PIDC working Procedures and PIDC staff regulations.
PIDC Member Country Reports
Country reports focusing on the theme were presented by Australia, Cook Islands, FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Members agreed there were commonalities on immigration issues challenging members in the Pacific and the need to continue to work closely together to monitor and protect their borders was crucial for the region. Members agreed to address issues raised during the discussion through their Management Board to analyse in detail the challenges and opportunities emerging from the country reports.
PIDC Financial Update
The Acting Head of Secretariat presented an updated financial report for 2012-13 and 2013-14 showing expenditures, variances and an update report on the PIDC Members Subscription fund. Members welcomed the new financial reporting template under PIDC's new legal structure as there was more detail and clarity to the financial report. Members agreed that the new financial reporting process under the new PIDC Financial Regulations promoted transparency and accountability within the organisation. The indicative budget for 2014-15 was also considered and will be finalised by the Management Board by the end of the 2013-14 financial year.
Members recognised the support Australia and New Zealand have provided since the establishment of the PIDC and thanked them for their continued commitment to the organisation.
Pacific Regional Immigration Identity Project and Pacific Customs, Immigration and Police Intelligence Officer Training Programme
Members acknowledged the benefits of PIDC training programmes delivered in the region for members. Members also recognised the continuing challenges caused by identity fraud and the benefits the PRIIP/Intel programme would bring to members in 2014-16. There was great anticipation and support for the implementation of the new PRIIP/Intel programme for 2014-16 and members are to be encouraged to work closely with New Zealand in delivering the training package.
Conference Workshop Session
Conference delegates participated in workshop sessions discussing issues related to the regulation of skilled migrant workers and the maintenance of integrity in skilled migration programmes. Delegates shared experiences from around the region reviewing best practices and standards that enhanced coordination amongst stakeholders and border control agencies in the regulation of skilled migrant workers. Members agreed that continuous consultations and strengthening of relationships with stakeholders was crucial to the process of managing issues relating to skilled migration programmes.
Presentations were provided by representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the ACP-Intra Migration Facility South Pacific Representative, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Removals, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Bali Process Regional Support Office and the International Air Transport Association. A guest speaker from Exxon Mobil also presented.
Election of new Management Board
The new Management Board elected for the 2014/15 year comprised - Australia (Donor), Papua New Guinea as Chair, Samoa (Vice Chair), Republic of the Marshall Islands (Micronesia), Solomon Islands (Melanesia), Kiribati (Small Island States),Tuvalu (Polynesia) and New Zealand (Donor).
Delegates were thankful to the Government of Papua New Guinea and its Chief Migration Officer, Mr Mataio Rabura, and his staff for organising and hosting a successful and historic Conference.
Organisations that hosted dinner functions, namely the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority, East New Britain Provincial Government, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Immigration New Zealand were gratefully acknowledged.
The Conference welcomed the invitation by Samoa to host the 18th Pacific Immigration Directors Annual Conference in 2015.
Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
1 MAY 2014