The Organized Crime Index | ENACT
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Nauru
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    Profile

    Nauru

    Capital

    Yaren

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 133.22 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    12,511

    Area

    20 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    GINI Index

    32.4

    2.050.29

    Criminality score

    191st of 193 countries 1

    13th of 14 countries in Oceania0

    4th of 4 countries in Micronesia0

    Criminal markets

    2.200.55

    An assessment of the value, prevalence and non-monetary impacts of a specific crime type.

    Human trafficking

    1.500.00

    Illicit activity involving coercion, deception, abduction or fraud for the purpose of exploitation, regardless of the victim’s consent.

    Human smuggling

    1.50-1.00

    Activities by an organized crime group involving the illegal entry, transit or residence of migrants for a financial or material benefit.

    Extortion & protection racketeering

    1.00 n/a

    Crimes linked to exerting control over a territory/market including as a mediator and/or requesting a benefit in exchange for protection.

    Arms trafficking

    1.000.00

    The sale, acquisition, movement, and diversion of arms, their parts and ammunition from legal to illegal commerce and/or across borders.

    Trade in counterfeit goods

    4.50 n/a

    The production, transport, storage and sale of goods that are fraudulently mislabeled or fraudulent imitations of registered brands.

    Illicit trade in excisable goods

    4.00 n/a

    The illicit transport, handling and sale of excise consumer goods despite a ban or outside a legal market. Excludes oil and counterfeits.

    Flora crimes

    1.000.00

    The illicit trade and possession of species covered by CITES convention, and other species protected under national law.

    Fauna crimes

    3.500.50

    The poaching, illicit trade in and possession of species covered by CITES and other species protected by national law. Includes IUU fishing.

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    3.500.00

    The illicit extraction, smuggling, mingling, bunkering or mining of natural resources and the illicit trade of such commodities.

    Heroin trade

    1.500.50

    The production, distribution and sale of heroin. Consumption of the drug is considered in determining the reach of the criminal market.

    Cocaine trade

    1.500.50

    The production, distribution and sale of cocaine and its derivatives. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cannabis trade

    1.500.50

    The illicit cultivation, distribution and sale of cannabis oil, resin, herb or leaves. Consumption is used to determine the market's reach.

    Synthetic drug trade

    1.500.50

    The production, distribution and sale of synthetic drugs. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cyber-dependent crimes

    2.50 n/a

    Organized crimes that rely solely on using information communications technology with the aim of obtaining a monetary/material benefit.

    Financial crimes

    3.00 n/a

    Organized crime that results in a monetary loss via financial fraud, embezzlement, misuse of funds, tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance.

    Criminal actors

    1.900.02

    An assessment of the impact and influence of a specific criminal actor type on society.

    Mafia-style groups

    1.000.00

    Clearly defined organized crime groups that usually have a known name, defined leadership, territorial control and identifiable membership.

    Criminal networks

    1.500.50

    Loose networks of criminal associates engaging in criminal activities who fail to meet the defining characteristics of mafia-style groups.

    State-embedded actors

    3.500.00

    Criminal actors that are embedded in, and act from within, the state’s apparatus.

    Foreign actors

    2.500.50

    State and/or non-state criminal actors operating outside their home country. Includes foreign nationals and diaspora groups.

    Private sector actors

    1.00 n/a

    Profit-seeking individuals/entities who own/control a part of the legal economy free from the state, that collaborate with criminal actors.

    5.000.33

    Resilience score

    91st of 193 countries 8

    12th of 14 countries in Oceania-1

    4th of 4 countries in Micronesia-1

    Political leadership & governance

    5.000.00

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.000.50

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    6.000.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    7.501.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    6.500.50

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    5.500.00

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    7.500.00

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    7.001.00

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50-0.50

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    2.000.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    1.000.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    3.501.50

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    5.00 1.90 2.20 5.00 1.90 2.20

    5.000.33

    Resilience score

    91st of 193 countries 8

    12th of 14 countries in Oceania-1

    4th of 4 countries in Micronesia-1

    Political leadership & governance

    5.000.00

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.000.50

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    6.000.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    7.501.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    6.500.50

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    5.500.00

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    7.500.00

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    7.001.00

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.50-0.50

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    2.000.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    1.000.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    3.501.50

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    Analysis

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    People

    There is no evidence to suggest that human trafficking is a criminal market of any significant scale in Nauru. The country does not appear to be a source, destination or transit country and the risk of the problem emerging in the short and medium term is very minimal.

    Similarly, evidence of human smuggling in Nauru is scarce. While the country is situated near the human smuggling route from East Asia to Fiji, there have been no reports of this crime. There is no information confirming the existence of extortion and protection racketeering in recent years.

    Trade

    There is no evidence of arms trafficking in Nauru. There are no privately owned legal or illegal firearms in the country, and no evidence of manufacturing facilities. Imports of explosives, firearms and weapons are prohibited.

    Furthermore, there is no substantial indication of a significant market for counterfeit goods in Nauru. However, recently, there has been an increase in the trade of counterfeited goods in the Oceania region, with growing demand. Counterfeited items, such as textile goods, foodstuffs and pharmaceutical products are increasingly prevalent in the country. Similarly, illicit trade in excise goods, specifically tobacco products, has been also on the rise in the region and in the country, due to the increasing levels of excise taxes.

    Environment

    Nauru's environment has been severely degraded due to the mining of phosphate, resulting in the loss of almost all its original vegetation. This has made Nauru less vulnerable to flora crimes as there is hardly any flora left.

    The scale and value of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Nauru is less significant than in neighbouring countries. However, these activities cannot be ruled out due to its proximity to the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands, where IUU fishing is more widespread. Revenues from fishing licenses make up a large proportion of Nauru’s income. The vast majority of the catch is taken by foreign industrial fishing vessels that pay fees to access Nauru’s waters. Nauru is part of the Vessel Day Scheme, which allows vessel owners to purchase and trade days of fishing at sea. This is a cooperative model in which fishing companies bid for fishing days, discouraging fierce competition and illegality, although the latter cannot be discounted since control is weak. Moreover, lax tax policies may attract actors interested in the illicit trading of tuna.

    The non-renewable resource industry in Nauru is dominated by phosphate mining, which has caused extensive environmental damage to the island. While there is no evidence of significant criminal activity in the industry, corruption remains a risk within the extractive sector. Nauru's reliance on non-renewable resources has forced it to approve deep-sea mining in its waters in 2023, which has raised alarm among conservationists due to the unknown environmental impacts on the flora and fauna in the ocean. The lack of regulations in the country and the potential for corruption in the sector are cause for concern.

    Drugs

    There is no evidence of any major drug trafficking activities in Nauru, with minimal risk of the problem emerging in the short and medium term. Heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs are not prevalent in the country, and there is no evidence of any consumer base for these drugs. Moreover, Nauru's ecological devastation may complicate cannabis cultivation, making the market also negligible. Although Nauru is situated along the methamphetamine smuggling route from South East and East Asia to Tonga and Fiji, there is currently no evidence that it is used as a transit point for synthetic drugs.

    Cyber Crimes

    Incidents of cyber-dependent crimes in Nauru are historical and anecdotal due to the country’s isolation, low internet access, and small population and economy.

    Financial Crimes

    Nauru has a history of offshore banking and as a tax haven, making financial crimes, especially in the form of tax evasion, common in the country. However, there have not been cases of tax evasion reported in recent years.

    Criminal Actors

    Nauru's limited trade and transport infrastructure, as well as its small population and its geography, make it unlikely for mafia-style groups or criminal networks to be operating in the country. The limited reach and value of illicit economies further reduce opportunities for criminal activity.

    State-embedded actors, including government officials, have been implicated in bribery allegations involving foreign businesses. While the fishing sector may be vulnerable to corrupt practices, there is no evidence of state-embedded actors profiting from transnational crime. Foreign criminal actors also have limited involvement in organized crime, with evidence of only a few foreign businesses engaging in corrupt practices. There are no private sector actors involved in criminal economies as the government controls the licit markets on the island.

    Leadership and governance

    The organized crime landscape in Nauru is extremely limited, although corruption remains a problem due to the country's small population, weak political and economic environment, and vulnerability to foreign influence. Though the government has taken steps to sideline its political opponents, people in Nauru generally enjoy political rights and civil liberties. The government has made efforts to tackle criminal activity, but transparency and accountability are inhibited by the concentration of media outlets in the hands of the state, which impedes the ability to hold instances of corruption and abuse of power to account. Nauru lacks a law on access to public information, and there are no income and asset disclosure laws for appointed or elected officials. The government has also been criticized for hampering international media work and for banning certain companies.

    Nauru has a history of international cooperation through its membership in various regional and international organizations. However, it has failed to ratify core international human rights instruments, although it is part of most of the key international treaties on organized crime. Cooperation in criminal matters also appears to be ad hoc rather than strategic, and the country’s actual ability to respond to requests for international criminal justice cooperation is very limited. At the same time, the country is heavily dependent on international cooperation, especially from Australia. In fact, Australia's influence over Nauru's internal affairs has led to concerns over human rights abuses due to the presence of a Regional Processing Centre for asylum seekers on the island. Corruption has been reported in conjunction with this facility, with the agreement to keep it open due to the country’s income being largely dependent on it. At the same time, threats to end this programme have forced the government to seek other sources of income. While Nauru has taken steps to improve its criminal justice system, such as adopting a new criminal code in 2016, there is still room for improvement in terms of legal framework and human rights. Nauru has implemented international agreements and model laws on organized crime in its domestic law, but law enforcement and planning depend heavily on international cooperation due to the lack of financing and lack of qualified personnel on the island.

    Criminal justice and security

    Nauru's judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court and Family Court, with judges appointed by the president to serve until age 65. There are no specific judicial units or law enforcement units that deal with organized crime, as this is almost non-existent on the island. Overall, while the quality of Nauru's judicial and detention system may be sub-standard by global measures, there are few complaints or reports of serious weaknesses and failures in relation to instances of organized crime. However, there is widespread abuse of refugees and asylum seekers within the Nauru Regional Processing Centre. Deported individuals from Australia, while waiting for a resolution of their status, suffer from grossly inadequate housing, denial of health care for life-threatening conditions, and a high rate of self-harm attempts among residents.

    Overall, law enforcement relating to major criminal investigations in Nauru is heavily reliant on international assistance from other Pacific countries, namely, Australia and New Zealand. The police force maintains internal security and, if necessary, external security. The country has no military force since, under an informal agreement, defence is the responsibility of Australia. Civilian authorities maintain effective control over the security forces, and these are known for committing few abuses. The Nauru Police Force is responsible for laying charges against offenders and has its own cyber-security division; however, the country is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. There are still concerns about lack of infrastructure and border control capacities in Nauru, but recent efforts to build a climate-resilient port may also lead to improvements in its security in the future.

    Economic and financial environment

    Nauru was a haven for money laundering in the early 1990s but, since 2004, the government has made significant progress in its anti-money laundering efforts. The risks of money laundering in Nauru are now low due to external pressures and policy measures implemented to improve the image of the country. Also, a narrow economic base, the absence of financial institutions, and strict land tenure restrictions make Nauru unattractive for investment and financial flows. Despite this, the government has been suspected of money laundering practices and other offences, with an Australian bank announcing that it would no longer handle accounts for the Nauran government on suspicions of financial mismanagement.

    Overall, Nauru is not a friendly country for investment, and weak institutions make it vulnerable to criminality. However, the isolated location and small area of the island are not attractive for transnational criminal activities either. Although economic growth has picked up in recent years, the declining revenue from phosphate mining and activities associated with the Regional Processing Centre for asylum seekers means that there are few avenues available for future growth. In fact, most of the labour force is employed in either the phosphate-mining sector or in the public sector, with the government being the country’s largest employer. Currently, more than three quarters of the population are unemployed.

    Civil society and social protection

    The government of Nauru has not implemented any prevention strategies related to organized crime since there is no evidence of this threat in the country. Furthermore, Nauru lacks the financial and technical capacity to implement victim and witness support programmes, hindering victim and witness protection. Refugees living in the Regional Processing Centre for Australian asylum seekers face miserable living conditions and are vulnerable to violation and mistreatment.

    There are no civil society actors specifically focused on organized crime, nor are there any non-state actors providing support to victims. Nevertheless, there are several advocacy groups for women, as well as development-focused and religious organizations. Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution but not always respected in practice. Foreign journalists face difficulties operating in Nauru due to government-imposed restrictions aimed at deterring outside coverage of conditions for asylum seekers and refugees. Also, there are laws against defamation, which is punishable with up to three years in prison. Similarly, other regulations serve as a deterrent to journalists publishing anything critical of the government or judiciary. The right to assemble peacefully has not always been respected in practice, particularly regarding demonstrations related to abuse at the Regional Processing Centre for Australian asylum seekers.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    How to measure organized crime?

    A series of 13 discussion papers, one for each illicit market considered during the development of the Index.

    Read more on globalinitiative.net
    How to measure organized crime?

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    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.