Over 20 countries including New Zealand and Australia have given the green light to lend a hand to the Samoan police in providing security for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2024.

This was confirmed by the Acting Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Wednesday saying they are now in the process of preparing written requests to send to the 21 countries who have agreed to help.

“The preparations we are doing now are, we haven’t confirmed the numbers yet but our initial goal is to request New Zealand, Australia and other countries in the Pacific to help,” she said.

“The Commissioner tabled this in the meeting with Commissioners from the Pacific in August and we didn’t put in a number as we just wanted to know the position of all the commissioners on this and the feedback was that all the commissioners were supportive of the idea.

“So we are now preparing written requests but we don’t want to give a number except for New Zealand when we visited New Zealand recently and we requested for 150 but there’s an indication that it might be more.

“But again, we are now working on written requests to be sent out to them as they have shown their support.”

Asked whether it would cost Samoa, Papalii said they anticipate the initial cost to Samoa would be zero as they are currently liaising with usual donors and partners to step in.

“At the meantime, we are not sure whether it would impose any cost on Samoa but we are currently liaising with the usual donor partners on how we can work around this (financially).”

Meanwhile, there are currently approximately 900 police officers recruited into the Ministry with the target to reach its maximum number of 1027 by next year.

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland announced that the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Apia, Samoa, beginning on 21 October 2024.

CHOGM – customarily held every two years – is the Commonwealth’s primary political meeting. Building on progress since CHOGM 2022, leaders will deliberate on global economic, environmental and security challenges, and discuss how the contemporary Commonwealth can work together to build resilience, boost trade, innovation, growth, and empower the Commonwealth’s 1.5 billion young people to build a more peaceful, sustainable future.

Commonwealth Leaders selected Samoa as the incoming Chair-In-Office and host of the next CHOGM at last year’s Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda. It will be the first CHOGM to be held in a Pacific Small Island Developing State and the first since Gabon and Togo officially joined the Commonwealth, increasing the number of member nations to 56.