Between 22 and 23rd March 2010, Australia and Sri Lanka Co-Chaired the Bali Process Ad Hoc Group: Technical Experts Working Group on Irregular Movement by Air held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In attendance were representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Maldives, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The meeting focused on the proposal adopted at the Bali Process Ad Hoc Group meeting in Perth, Australia in December 2009 to establish a Regional Immigration Liaison Network (RILON) to assist in combating irregular movements by air across international immigration borders.
Each country presented their perspective on specific challenges of irregular movement in the region and agreed that irregular migration needs to be resolved at the regional level with countries cooperating and working closely with neighbours and other countries in the region utilising the Bali Process as a vehicle to facilitate this cooperation.
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand led discussions on the need to establish RILON in the face of regional challenges faced by countries, the composition of RILON Teams and an assessment of risks and solutions to be found, respectively.
Participants agreed on the following:
- There is a need for the establishment of RILON.
- RILON would support by facilitating consistency regarding the levels of awareness and understanding by agencies of risks involved in facilitating the movement of people.
- The focus of RILON should be on enhancing the integrity of documents and visa issuing process as well as addressing vulnerabilities at airports.
- A database of information and intelligence developed with assistance by IOM would support RILON. IOM agreed to report on this matter at the next Working Group meeting.
- RILON could be used to seek broader participation, particularly by host countries.
- The composition of each countries’ representation in RILON meetings should be flexible with a consistent point of contact, ideally in an immigration position, appointed for continuity.
- Responsibility for the operation of individuals RILON Teams rests with the host country.
- The scope of a RILON Team must be clear to all participants with well defined parameters and limitations around the use of shared information and intelligence.
- RILON Teams must maintain a minimum level of participation
- The effectively manage the challenges posed by people smugglers, there is a need for commitment to pursue and prosecute criminals involved.
- The region must increase efforts in information and intelligence sharing, to assist in understanding the extent and level of criminal activity. This was echoed in relation to the development of a network with the additional need for a presence on the ground.
- Awareness of best practices around the world to detect and deter irregular movements by air would support all member countries.
- Government technology must be kept up-to-date.
Delegates also considered the type of information RILON Teams may share and the mechanisms used to share this information in an effective way as well as an implementation strategy which participants agreed to bring back to their governments for approval.
Participants agreed to reconvene within six months to consider the findings.