Between 28 and 30 September 2021, Sri Lanka and Australia co-chaired the fourth Technical Experts Group on Returns and Reintegration (TEGRR) of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) virtually.
In attendance were representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam, member organizations International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) also attended the meeting.
Participants presented updates and discussed issues pertaining to the topic of returns and reintegration including:
- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on returns and reintegration, improvements in the monitoring and evaluation of returns data, cooperation on identity and the treatment of returnee debt, and developments in national returns and reintegration policies across Bali Process Members.
- The RSO highlighted relevant publications available to TEGRR members to assist in improving returns and reintegration and updated on the refresh of the Bali Process website.
- The RSO ensured its commitment to support practical cooperation among Bali Process members in spite of COVID-19 imposed limitations.
- IOM officials updated on the current situation across the region in returns and reintegration, the impacts of the pandemic, emerging trends and provided examples of best practice in returns and reintegration.
- IOM updated on recent work supported by the RSO on sustainable returns and reintegration in Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Vietnam.
- Members updated on their national outlook for returns and reintegration and shared their perspective on issues impacting the region.
- The TEG-RR members from Indonesia – Co-Chairs of the Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons (TIPWG) received a presentation on the potential linkages between Bali Process Working Groups.
- The RSO will look to host a roundtable on the issue of debt as a barrier to sustainable returns.
- The Co-Chairs noted that the TEGRR’s focus should rest on the stricter health requirements for international travel and urged all TEG-RR members to continue cooperation on returns considering that these are not possible without travel documents.
- The Co-chairs proposed the development of a formalised work plan for the TEGRR Working Group.
- The Co-chairs expressed their appreciation to Sri Lanka for acting as Co-Chair during 2020 and 2021 and invited members to nominate the next co-chair in 2022.