The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

Working Group on Disruption of Criminal Networks Involved in People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons

The Bali Process Working Group on the Disruption of People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Networks focuses on concrete, action oriented activities for enhancing coordination to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in people smuggling and trafficking in persons in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Working Group is co-chaired by New Zealand and Malaysia (previously co-chaired by Sri Lanka) and reports annually to the Bali Process Ad Hoc Group (AHG). It brings together a network of officials involved in aspects of law enforcement, and border control from the fifteen countries that form the Ad Hoc Group membership.

At the Eighth AHG Senior Officials' Meeting on 6 August, 2014 in Canberra, AHG member countries endorsed the establishment of, and terms of reference for, the Working Group. A Forward Work Plan was developed at an initial Roundtable on Migration and Transnational Crime held under the auspices of the Regional Support Office (RSO) in Bangkok on 24 September, 2015.

The Working Group met for the first time on 19 May, 2015. At this meeting, the co-chairs proposed that the Working Group collectively plans, coordinates, and carries out a Joint Period of Action to disrupt people smuggling and trafficking in persons networks. The initiative was welcomed by the AHG member countries.

1st Joint Period of Action

Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand participated in the 1st Joint Period of Action, which was carried out from 28 September to 28 October 2015. INTERPOL provided support.  Trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation was investigated across a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, farming, fishing, beauty services, and domestic work.  Criminal networks involved in the online commercial sexual exploitation of children were also targeted.

    In total, authorities in the eight countries:

  • Assisted 59 trafficked persons
  • Executed seven search warrants and identified 63 suspects
  • Made 32 arrests and launched eight new investigations
  • Made over 70 bilateral and international enquires to progress trafficking in persons and people smuggling investigations
  • Conducted 68 awareness-raising activities, including for employers, civil society, and vulnerable groups 
  • Carried out 12 training sessions and trained 485 police, airport, immigration, and compliance officers throughout the region
  • Gathered useful intelligence on the traffickers and smugglers involved and their modus operandi

A Joint Period of Action Debrief meeting was held in Bangkok on 25 November 2015 with the AHG member countries to discuss what outcomes were achieved, what worked well, what did not work well, and what should be done differently.

2nd Joint Period of Action

From May to November 2016, law enforcement and immigration agencies from Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the USA carried out nine separate coordinated operations for crimes including maritime people smuggling and trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation across a wide range of sectors, such as fishing, construction, and domestic servitude.  Criminal networks involved in the online commercial sexual exploitation of children were also targeted.

Parallel efforts led to over 30 arrests, including the arrest of one of the region’s most notorious people smugglers, Abraham Louhenapessy, better known as Captain Bram.  He is currently facing court on people smuggling charges in Indonesia.  Trafficking in persons networks were also disrupted in Malaysia, the Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, and the USA. 
 

3rd Joint Period of Action

Between March to August 2017, law enforcement and immigration agencies from ten countries – Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the USA carried out nine joint operations aimed at dismantling people smuggling and trafficking in persons networks in the Asia-Pacific region. Criminal networks involved in the online commercial sexual exploitation of children were also targeted.

The 3rd Joint Period of Action contributed to 72 persons being convicted of human trafficking and people smuggling offences, including notorious people smuggler Abraham Louhenapessy, better known as Captain Bram.  Sixty-two people were also convicted in Thailand’s largest human trafficking trial, which arose from the May 2015 discovery of mass graves along the Thailand-Malaysia border.  The investigation was first included under the 1st Joint Period of Action, and the continued cooperation between Thai and Malaysian Police authorities over subsequent periods of action significantly contributed to the results achieved.

Authorities in the ten countries also;

  • rescued six trafficked victims
  • executed five search warrants and identified 23 new suspects
  • made 10 arrests and launched nine new investigations
  • made two extradition requests
  • made numerous bilateral and international enquiries to progress trafficking in persons and people smuggling investigations
  • conducted awareness-raising activities and carried out targeted training for over 50 police, airport, immigration, and compliance officers across the region
  • gathered useful intelligence on the traffickers and smugglers involved and their modus operandi.

Meetings

Roundtable on Migration and Transnational Crime
- Bangkok, 24 September 2015

First Meeting of the Working Group on the Disruption of People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons- Bangkok 19 May 2015

Joint Period of Action Planning Meeting - Bangkok 1-2 September 2015

Joint Period of Action Debrief Meeting - Bangkok 25 November 2015

2nd Joint Period of Action Planning Meeting - Bangkok 19 May 2016

2nd Joint Period of Action Debrief Meeting - Bangkok 1 December 2016

3rd Joint Period of Action Planning Workshop - Kuala Lumpur 28 February 2017

3rd Joint Period of Action Debrief Workshop - Bangkok 14 September 2017

Activities

1st Joint Period of Action: September – November 2015

2nd Joint Period of Action: May – May to November 2016

3rd Joint Period of Action: March to August 2017

 

Contact

For more information on the Working Group, contact CRIS-BusinessSupport@mbie.govt.nz