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Indonesia, Australia team up to tackle people smuggling

 

Australia and Indonesia co-chair the Bali Process, a regional forum tasked with disrupting people smuggling and trafficking which has been criticised for not doing enough.

 

WHAT IS THE BALI PROCESS

– A regional forum of 45 asylum-seeker source, transit and destination countries

– Aim is to disrupt transnational crimes of people smuggling and human trafficking in the Asia Pacific

– Australia and Indonesia co-chair the forum

– UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and UN Office of Drugs and Crime also involved

 

OBJECTIVES

– Countries, agencies share intelligence about people smuggling and trafficking

– Encourage regional co-operation among law enforcement agencies to catch, prosecute smugglers

– Works on ways to reduce the exploitation of smuggled and trafficked people

 

PAST FAILINGS

– Criticism has focused on the forum being little more than a talk-fest with few outcomes

– The forum came under fire in 2015 when hundreds of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, and in Bangladesh, drowned on people smugglers’ boats

– Indonesia conceded Bali Process had failed to bring all parties together quickly in emergencies

– In 2016, Bali Process countries gave the forum the capacity to act swiftly to deal with future crises

 

FUTURE CHALLENGES

– Thousands of asylum seekers remain in limbo in transit countries in Southeast Asia

– Many do not resettle refugees and avenues for resettlement are closing in Europe, Australia and the US

– Indonesia wants Australia to lift its ban on accepting refugees who arrived in Indonesia after June 2014

– The UNHCR has echoed that point, saying Australianeeds to be part of the solution

 

NEW STRATEGIES

– The Bali Process’s focus on people smuggling and trafficking is beginning to change

– It’s now passing declarations to improve protections and outcomes for smuggled and trafficked people

– It’s also engaging with private businesses to check their supply chains for signs of slavery

 

AFP

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