Between 27 and 29 July 2009, the Co-Chairs of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Translational Crime hosted the first Meeting of the Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials in Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali Process Ad Hoc Group mechanism was activated during the Third Bali Process Ministerial Conference to develop practical outcomes at the operational level, to assist countries to mitigate increased irregular population movements, and enhance information-sharing arrangements between most-affected countries. The Ad Hoc Group was tasked to report to Co-Chairs through the Bali Process Steering Group with concrete recommendations for regional cooperation on people smuggling and trafficking in persons.
In attendance were representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, as well as representatives from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the ASEAN Secretariat as an observer.
1. Meeting opening by Co-Chairs, adoption of agenda and programme of work.
2. Overview on Irregular People Movement in the Region.
- IOM and UNHCR also presented three important ongoing regional caseloads, namely the irregular and onward movement of Afghans, Sri Lankans and people from the northern Rakhine State, Myanmar.
3. Review of Domestic and Bilateral Responses.
- Participants provided insights into their experiences of people smuggling and trafficking in persons. Discussions centered around four key issues: prevention; legislation, criminalisation and prosecution, and victim protection and support.
Delegates committed to the following objectives, as presented in the Co-Chairs Statement:
- To tackle irregular movements, participants agreed to establish an open-ended and self-selecting sub-group, or cluster, of affected countries of the Ad Hoc Group to better focus efforts to coordinate regional responses to specific caseloads of irregular migrants. The first caseload focused on the irregular movement of Sri Lankans.
- To effectively coordinate regional efforts to prosecute criminal syndicates organizing and profiting from people smuggling, participants agreed to convene two technical expert meetings comprising of senior law enforcement and border agency officials and legal experts.
- To address the risks associated with maritime people smuggling ventures, participants agreed to convene a technical meeting to further discuss the possibility of developing a standard regional approach to the management of irregular maritime ventures in international and territorial waters in accordance with relevant international instruments.
- To better understand irregular movements by air and to examine appropriate arrangements to deter this practice, participants supported the proposal to have a technical expert working group to develop practical measures around greater regional cooperation, information sharing and capacity building.
- For effective communication strategies, participants agreed to share best practices on developing and implementing information campaigns from the perspectives of source, transit and destination countries in the context of a workshop convened before the end of 2009.
- Collaboration on protection issues focused on sharing an information paper as a framework for further discussion on the challenges of managing mixed migration flows, including the benefits of implementing a registration system to ensure states are able to better understand and appropriately manage the movement of people across borders.
Note: The First Meeting of the Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials in 2009 formalised an existing ad-hoc follow-up mechanism to Ministerial Conferences - where voluntary participation of officials from respective countries supported concrete steps to implement recommendations from Ministerial Conferences. These Ad Hoc expert meetings, supported by IOM and UNHCR, enabled coordination of actions that the region could undertake to combat people smuggling, trafficking in persons, other forms of illegal migration and related transnational crime.