Australia and Indonesia co-chaired the second Senior Officials Meeting ahead of the Bali Process Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime in Brisbane from 7 to 8 June 2004.
The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Alexander Downer MP, provided an overview of the measures Australia had taken to combat people smuggling and trafficking in persons, and on the valuable work of the Bali Process.
Senior officials reviewed progress against the objectives set by Ministers and discussed future directions. They also discussed the administration and organisation of the Bali process. The meeting was attended by 139 delegates representing 47 countries and nine international and regional organisations.
Senior officials noted that the main goals of the two Bali Regional Ministerial Conferences on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, co-hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Australia and Indonesia in February 2002 and April 2003, were to raise awareness of and develop greater cooperation among regional countries to combat people smuggling and trafficking.
They agreed that these broad goals had largely been met as a result of the high level political focus generated by the two Ministerial Conferences and the active follow-up program of practical workshops and activities undertaken by officials from foreign, justice, law enforcement and immigration ministries. They agreed that the Bali process had created an environment in which regional countries were cooperating increasingly (including bilaterally and sub-regionally) in preventing and intercepting people smuggling (and, to a lesser extent, trafficking) activities, prosecuting those responsible and strengthening border management.
Senior officials noted that the Bali process had moved from discussion of principles to the implementation of measures to achieve practical results. Senior officials also agreed that significant challenges remained. They discussed changes in the regional and international environment with respect to people smuggling and trafficking issues since the second Ministerial meeting and
made recommendations to Ministers on further work the Bali process could undertake to address these.
Future work, coordination, funding and administration
Senior officials noted the importance of continuing information and intelligence sharing. They proposed that the website be reviewed and further developed to include additional information and links to other sites and databases.
Senior officials recommended further work to raise awareness of people smuggling and trafficking issues – nationally, within the region and in multilateral forums. Senior officials welcomed advice from the Republic of Korea that it would hold a second people trafficking/public awareness campaign workshop in late 2004. Japan and Thailand announced that they were planning to hold further national workshops in the second half of 2004. Afghanistan announced that it would be willing to host a future workshop.
Senior officials also noted the importance of ongoing work to promote regional law enforcement cooperation. Senior officials noted the following as productive areas for possible further work: law enforcement and border control issues; assisting national capacity building including through the development of regional training programs in trafficking and law enforcement issues; an enhanced focus on trafficking in persons and on child sex tourism; and development of policy and/or legislation on lost and stolen passports.
On legislative issues, further work could be taken forward in establishing domestic procedures and mechanisms including for mutual assistance and extradition and encouraging the development of mutual assistance and extradition relationships. Participants noted the intention to hold further workshops on law enforcement and targeting people smugglers/traffickers.
Senior officials noted that consistent with the spirit of the Bali process since its inception, these proposals were non-binding and participation in any activities developed as a result would be voluntary.
Senior officials noted the valuable role played by the co-chairs, the Ad-Hoc Experts Group coordinators, and UNHCR and IOM in helping direct and coordinate the work of the Bali process, consistent with the outcomes of the two Ministerial meetings and in consultation with participating countries. They asked for this work to continue.
Given progress to date and the more targeted approach proposed for its future work, they suggested that the Ad-Hoc Experts Groups be discontinued in their current form but that New Zealand coordinate activities on regional and international cooperation on policy issues and legal frameworks and Thailand coordinate activities on regional and international cooperation on policy issues and law enforcement. They agreed that the Steering Group should continue in its current planning and coordination role.