New Zealanders linked to criminal groups and trying to enter Fiji have been warned they will be turned away at the Fijian border.
A Kiwi, with Fijian connections, was refused entry at Nadi Airport last week after border officials discovered he had links to criminal gangs in Aotearoa.
Fiji’s Immigration Minister Pio Tikoduadua said information sought from Immigration New Zealand about the man – who has not been named – revealed he had “links to a motorcycle gang and did not satisfy Fiji’s entry requirements.
“The man, whose grandfather’s Fijian, was a convict from New Zealand, and he wanted to enter Fiji, but his papers were not in order, so we sought advice from New Zealand, and he was returned to Auckland at the border,” Tikoduadua said.
Tikoduadua said the man did not produce enough evidence at the border to grant him a visa to enter Fiji and was turned away.
“He is appealing through the normal process, but that process could take some time,” the minister said.
Tikoduadua told Parliament on Monday that Fiji border officials had also identified an emerging trend of motorcycle gangs connected to criminal activity trying to enter Fiji from New Zealand and Australia.
He said close to 19,000 immigration permits were issued by Fiji annually.
“Irregular migration encompasses illegal entering, either by evading border controls, or using false documents, overstaying of a valid period of staying, or violating the terms of stay – most commonly, working when not authorised to do so.”
Fiji’s government said Covid-19 had crippled Pacific law enforcement agencies’ efforts to effectively respond to transnational crimes.
“The pandemic has resulted in increased unemployment, a high cost of living and a lack of health resources,” the government said in a statement.
“But we will not tolerate or allow anyone with illegal, criminal links abroad to enter Fiji. There will be no entry!”
Fiji’s government said the challenges brought about by Covid had become “push factors” for Pacific Islanders to join the multibillion-dollar criminal networks.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been approached for comment.
In July last year, an American serial sperm donor – with nearly 60 biological children – was detained in Fiji on his way to New Zealand where he had planned to do a “donation tour” to create Kiwi babies.
Kyle Gordy said he was stopped at Nadi Airport after arriving from Los Angeles. He was later deported.
In 2016, violent Kiwi-born bikie with a long criminal history Aaron Joe Thomas Graham faced deportation from Australia back to New Zealand, despite winning a court battle to maintain his visa.
Graham, known as AJ, had challenged the Australian government over his visa since June 2015, when he was arrested by immigration officers in Tasmania.
Australian Federal Court judge Richard Tracey quashed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel Graham’s visa, over a technicality involving procedural unfairness.
But within hours, Dutton “decided to again cancel his visa”. A law change in 2017 saw Graham kicked out of Australia despite winning a High Court appeal against his second visa cancellation. Graham’s visa was cancelled three times before he was escorted on to a flight to Auckland after two years in a Sydney’s Villawood detention centre.