We will not let criminals take advantage of revenue programs: Napuat

The Ministry of Internal Affairs will not let criminals take advantage of the country’s revenue programs to enter Vanuatu, says Minister Napuat. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) as the ministry responsible for security will not let criminals take advantage of the country's revenue programs to enter Vanuatu, said Minister Andrew Napuat.

“The deportation of six Chinese nationals from the country last week is a message to other wanted person or criminals that Vanuatu is very serious about protecting its borders and no one can run away from his or her crime,” Minister Napuat said yesterday.

“Vanuatu's reputation as one of the world's best tourist destinations remains strong and we do not want to be seen as a country harboring criminals.

“That is why we requested the Chinese Embassy to help us deport the Chinese nationals earlier, through a chartered aircraft.

“To those other foreigners who have obtained Vanuatu passports through the Citizenship Program, you must understand that the government can revoke your passports at any time if you are caught in illegal acts.

"We will be strengthening our border compliance and rules.

"Vanuatu's citizenship program was meant to generate revenue and bring in business elites who can contribute to our country's development. 

"The Citizenship Commission needs to step up with the program. We (MOIA) will step up if they don't.”

Four of the deportees have Vanuatu passports which were acquired through the citizenship program. 

Their passports have been canceled by the Vanuatu Immigration Services (VIS) on grounds of committing criminal activities.

The nature of the act committed by those six Chinese nationals falls under cybercrime, something which is new to Vanuatu.

Assistance from Chinese police was sought due to lack of resources and expertise to deal with the issue involving the use of computer and internet, Minister Napuat clarified.

"We need them to come and secure evidence (hidden electronic devices) before it could be destroyed,” Minister Napuat explained.

“We also need their help in translation and communication because we are dealing with Chinese nationals.

"Operations in the past usually involve deporting just one person. This recent operation involves six men thus, it requires six Chinese police officers to escort each one of them through the long flight to China.

"Speculations have been made in the media that the Chinese police came to conduct the operation in Vanuatu. I want to clarify that the operation was conducted under the full control of the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and VIS.

"The Chinese police came to assist following approval from VPF and VIS. The operation is co-funded by VIS and the Chinese Embassy.

"The warrant of arrest for the Chinese nationals was issued to VIS from the China Public Security Bureau, through the Chinese Embassy.

"The order to remove the wanted foreigners without notice was signed by me on June 25," he conveyed.

Despite limited resources and policies in place, the operation was an opportunity for the Vanuatu law enforcement officers to prepare themselves ahead of the enforcement of the cybercrime bill, said Minister Napuat.

Ni-Vanuatu police officers who accompanied the suspects on the chartered flight have handed the six Chinese nationals, including the evidence obtained from the operation to Chinese authorities last Friday.

They are expected to return back to the country this week via normal flight.

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