Between 28 and 30 May 2012, Indonesia and Australia Co-hosted the Technical Experts’ Workshop on Combating Trafficking in Persons in Bali, Indonesia.
The workshop was co-chaired by Mr Febrian A. Ruddyard, Director for International Security and Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ms Margaret Close. Eighty officials and experts attended the workshop, representing the governments of Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, China, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, Vietnam, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also participated as an observer.
The workshop objective was to examine a coordinated approach to developing and implementing practical measures to protect and assist victims of trafficking, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking in persons.
The workshop focused on three themes:
- coordinated responses to detecting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons and
- coordinated responses to assisting and protecting victims of trafficking.
Theme 1: Prevention
Australia and Malaysia spoke about the challenges they have faced in effectively criminalizing trafficking in persons, and the recent legislative reforms underway to strengthen their legal frameworks
Theme 2: Coordinated responses to detecting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons
Participants considered the importance of detecting trafficking victims and ventures through robust immigration policies and practices, particularly through compliance monitoring operations.
Australia highlighted that strong coordination between its immigration and law enforcement agencies has been essential to implementing timely victim identification, response and investigation of suspected trafficking cases.
Indonesia highlighted the main challenges in investigating trafficking in persons.
Thailand shared its experience of the challenges in prosecuting trafficking in persons related activities, and discussed innovative practices introduced into Thai legislation to protect victims during prosecution, such as through pre-trial hearings.
The Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project (ARTIP) highlighted the value of informal police-to-police cooperation and formal mutual legal assistance mechanisms.
The Philippines presented a case study where law enforcement agencies utilised their strong networks of cooperation with Malaysia to launch a successful operation, which rescued four victims of trafficking.
Australia and Indonesia spoke about the importance of strong anti-money laundering and criminal asset confiscation regimes to ‘follow the money’ of organized crime operations.
Theme 3: Coordinated responses to assisting and protecting victims of trafficking
Sri Lanka presented on its adoption of victim-centered and rights-based approaches in their development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on victim identification and protection.
Participants also examined the importance of intra-agency coordination at the national level through a case study of the work of the Philippines’ Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
The International Organization of Migration (IOM) spoke about its role as an inter-governmental organisation and its work in the region to strengthen the capacity of front-line officials.
A local Indonesian NGO, the Muslimat Nahdlatul Ulama spoke about its work with trafficking victims in Indonesia, and this was complemented by an overview by the international NGO Sacred Childhoods Foundation about its work in Bali on awareness raising and preventative programs for persons vulnerable to trafficking.
- Some participants considered training for law enforcement officials including judges on how to work in the specific context of trafficking cases.
- Participants recognised the importance of informal and formal cooperation, and that the Bali Process is a useful platform to strengthen that cooperation, to improve victim identification processes and criminal justice responses.
- Members acknowledged the important role of the Bali Process in enhancing relations amongst officials, and that a formal networking mechanism could be established as a means of information sharing amongst officials.